Just days after winding up its membership meeting in Panamá in which it denounced the murder of eight Latin American journalists in the last three months, the Inter American Press Association Wednesday condemned a new attack in Guatemala in which two reporters were killed and one other was seriously injured.
Association President Gustavo Mohme expressed outrage at the seriousness of the attack and recalled that “we have been insisting that many journalists in the interior of their countries are carrying out their work under a mantle of lack of safety and protection, so we insist that the authorities investigate in-depth and immediately apply protective measures.”
Journalists Danilo López, 38, correspondent of the newspaper Prensa Libre, and Federico Salazar, 32, correspondent of radio station Radio Nuevo Mundo, were murdered in the city of Mazatenango, Suchitepéquez province, in the south of the country. Marvín Israel Túnchez, 28, host of the Canal 30 television newscasts, was seriously injured in the same attack.
The chairman of the association’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, said, “Frankly, the promises of those in charge of government to put an end to impunity seem to us to be increasingly useless and, at this stage, one could say that they sound even aggravating. It is as if they are laughing in our faces, while our press colleagues continue to die for exercising the human right to receive, gather and disseminate news and opinions.”
He recalled that at the membership meeting that ended Monday the organization condemned the murder of eight journalists (two each in Colombia, Honduras and Mexico, one in Paraguay and one in Peru) but also denounced the high level of impunity noted in all the countries of the Americas. ”The lack of justice,” he declared, “prompts many journalists and media, particularly in inland areas, where they are less protected, to opt for self-censorship as a means of protection.”
The crime was committed around 11 a.m. in the city’s central park opposite the building of the provincial government where a local governmental ceremony was being held. According to witnesses two people riding a motorcycle approached the journalists and shot at them. Some hours later a man identified as one of the alleged attackers was arrested.