Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April 2014, 11:39 GMT

Attacks on the Press in 2006 - Snapshots: Guatemala

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 2007
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 2006 - Snapshots: Guatemala, February 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c5675723.html [accessed 25 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

On February 1, Guatemala's Constitutionality Court struck down laws that criminalized expressions deemed offensive to public officials. The court ruled the desacato, or disrespect, provisions to be unconstitutional, declaring them "an attack on freedom of expression and the right to be informed." The decision by Guatemala's highest court voided Articles 411, 412, and 413 of the penal code, which called for prison terms of six months to three years for those who offend government or other public officials.

Radio host Vinicio Aguilar Mancilla was shot by an unidentified assailant during his morning jog on August 23. Aguilar, host of a daily political show on Radio 10 in Guatemala City, was approached by two men while jogging in a residential neighborhood. He said one of the men grabbed him by the hair, put a gun in his mouth, and said, "This is to shut you up." His assailant then fired, wounding Aguilar in the mouth and, because the journalist made a defensive motion, in the hand. Aguilar was taken to a local hospital, where he underwent reconstructive surgery on his cheek, jaw, and right hand. The journalist said he believed the attack was related to his work.

Early on the morning of September 10, radio reporter Eduardo Maas Bol was gunned down inside his car on the outskirts of the central city of Cobán in Alta Verapaz. Maas, Cobán correspondent for the Guatemala City-based Radio Punto, was on his way home after a party, his brother Félix Maas Bol told CPJ. He was shot four times, and robbery did not appear to have been a motive; his wallet and gold jewelry were found inside the car, local prosecutor Genaro Pacheco told CPJ. Maas also worked as a supervisor for the Ministry of Education, as a spokesman for the local journalists union, and as a human rights advocate, his brother said. Local authorities detained a suspect in September but did not close the investigation. In November, the Alta Verapaz human rights ombudsman, Hugo Pop, told CPJ that Maas' journalism was a possible motive in the murder.


Killed in 2006 in Guatemala

Eduardo Maas Bol, Radio Punto, September 9, 2006, Cobán (motive unconfirmed)

Maas, 58, Cobán correspondent for the Guatemala City-based Radio Punto, was found dead at around 4 a.m. in his parked car near the road that connects central Cobán to Guatemala City.

Maas was shot four times, in the head, left arm, back, and chest, local prosecutor Genaro Pacheco told CPJ. The reporter was on his way to his house after driving a colleague home from a party, his brother Félix Maas Bol told CPJ. Pacheco said the journalist's wallet and gold jewelry were found intact. Maas reported news from the Alta Verapaz region. Félix Maas told CPJ that his brother had not been threatened.

Maas also worked as a supervisor for the Ministry of Education, as a spokesman for the local journalists union, and as a human rights advocate, according to his brother. Until three months prior to his death, Maas had directed the daily news program "Correo del Norte" on local Radio Mía, which he left after a change in the station's administration, said Eduardo Fam Chun, the vice president of the local journalists union.

Local authorities detained a suspect in September, according to local press accounts. Hugo Pop, a spokesman for the special prosecutor for human rights, told CPJ that a motive had not been determined, but investigators were looking into Maas' reporting as a possible reason.

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