Mexican and Colombian newspeople face threats, attack and shooting

The Inter American Press Association has condemned an increase in attacks on the lives of journalists in Mexico and Colombia. The organization further criticized a campaign of harassment in Bolivia, concerns that will be discussed in detail at the organization’s upcoming General Assembly scheduled for October 17 to 21 in Chile.

The chairman of the association’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, expressed solidarity with journalists Karla Janeth Silva of Mexico and Amalfi Rosales of Colombia and Bolivian newspaper publishing company, Día a Día. Paolillo called on the authorities of those countries to carry out rigorous investigations to identify and punish those accountable.

Paolillo who is also the editor of the Montevideo Uruguay weekly, Búsqueda, protested an attack on Ms. Silva, a reporter with the newspaper El Heraldo in Silao, Guanajuato state. The journalist was beaten at her office Sept. 4 by a group of unidentified assailants who also damaged furniture and equipment there.

Ms. Silva filed a formal complaint about the attack and expressing confidence that city officials dissatisfied with her work are responsible for the attack. The incident comes in the wake of alleged warnings for her to lower the tone of her reports which focused on a lack of safety, transparency and wrongdoing in the handling of local government funds.

According to the organization Artículo 19 between April and June this year there were in Mexico 87 attacks of various kinds on media and journalists.

As regards Colombia, Ms. Rosales left La Guajira province where she lived after her home was shot at on Sept. 2. She and her family were unhurt in the attack. Ms. Rosales, a reporter with El Heraldo of Barranquilla, a correspondent of Noticias Uno radio and newspaper Al Día, had been receiving threats since last November.

She has covered political affairs such as the case of former governor Francisco “Kiko” Gómez, now in prison for alleged links to paramilitaries and three homicides. Gómez was also said to be involved in an alleged plan to kill journalists Gonzalo Guillén, León Valencia, Ariel Ávila and member of Congress and former journalist Claudia López. Last week Guillén, who is being guarded by a National Protection Unit, left the country temporarily.

Regarding Bolivia, the Inter American Press Association received a complaint from the Editorial Día a Día S.A., a newspaper publishing company, about a campaign of harassment that was understood to be waged by the government against witnesses and defendants in a case of alleged terrorism that has been before the courts of the South American nation for the past five years.

The company, which publishes the daily newspapers El Día, El Sol and Solo Deporte, reported that on Sept. 2 an individual wore a shirt, reserved exclusively for employees, containing the logo, “identify theft and material and ideological deceit.” The individual is not connected with the company.

The incident occurred during the holding of a trial that has a clear political color. Among those charged is an owner of the newspaper group. The person who used without authority the shirt with the company logo has been declared to be an alleged member of the security guard of one of the public prosecutors involved in the case.

Paolillo said that despite the fact that the association is respectful of legal proceedings “we condemn these kinds of incidents that while they are often seen as simple but grotesque acts can impede due process.”

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