Index 2024
138/ 180
Score : 42.28
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator
Index 2023
127/ 180
Score : 48.12
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator

Freedom of the press is guaranteed by the constitution, but this right is constantly violated by government officials and politicians. Journalists and media outlets who investigate corruption and human rights violations, or who are critical, face harassment campaigns and criminal prosecution.

Media landscape

In Guatemala there is a wide range of privately owned, alternative and, to a lesser extent, public media. Although there are no obstacles to the creation and operation of media outlets, the absence of a regulatory body dedicated to community radio stations has often caused them to be considered illegal and be shut down. The economic crisis in recent years has encouraged the creation of independent online investigative media and other information platforms. The leading print media have gone digital as a result of the political and economic persecution of independent journalism.

Political context

Guatemala has been going through a socio-political crisis since 2016, which has resulted in an increase in attacks on journalists critical of the authorities and has had a muzzling effect on the media. Journalists who investigate corruption, human rights violations or illegal private sector practices have become targets of multiple attacks.

Legal framework

Freedom of expression is guaranteed by the constitution and the Emission of Thought Law, which has constitutional status. In 2008, Congress approved a law designed to facilitate media access to state-held information, but it has repeatedly been flouted by the authorities. Legislation that would criminalise online criticism of the state has been proposed in recent years, but these proposals have yet to be debated in Congress. At the same time, legal proceedings and censorship of journalists, via court decisions, have continued to increase. Although only three journalists are imprisoned, there are fears that there will be more in the future as judicial harassment is on the rise.

Economic context

The economic situation in the country and the drop in advertising revenue have forced many news media to make major staff cuts and to prioritise online content, some of which is behind a paywall. The pandemic worsened the situation, leading to the disappearance of the print version of La Hora, which now exists only in a digital format. The persecution of the founder of elPeriódico forced the newspaper to lay off many of its employees and to stop publishing a print version.

Sociocultural context

Despite being vilified by the authorities, journalists are widely trusted by the public, above all because of their investigative reporting. However, some media outlets and journalists have experienced a fall in credibility due to their support for the government or their editorial line on women's rights, gender equality and human rights in general. Media coverage is increasingly restricted, especially in some public spaces where critical journalists are denied access.


The safety of journalists has deteriorated in recent years. The Arévalo administration is committed to developing a policy to protect journalists. They are, most often, victims of smear campaigns, police harassment, and verbal and physical aggression. Many have fled abroad, fearing for their lives and those of their families. They are also subject to arbitrary judicial proceedings, such as the founder of the daily elPeriódico, José Rubén Zamora. His six-year prison sentence was overturned on appeal in October 2023 on the grounds of procedural irregularities, but he remains in prison pending a retrial.

Abuses in real time in Guatemala

Killed since 1st January 2024
0 journalists
0 media workers
Detained as of today
2 journalists
1 media workers