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Attacks on the Press in 2007 - Snapshots: Guatemala

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 2008
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 2007 - Snapshots: Guatemala, February 2008, available at: [accessed 18 November 2017]
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 the night of February 3, an unidentified gunman aboard a motorcycle fired several times at a car owned by Wilder Jordán, a correspondent for the Guatemala City daily Nuestro Diario based in the eastern province of Zacapa, as the journalist was leaving his parents' house. Jordán told CPJ he believed the attack was related to a January 15 article detailing the death of a local man after a car accident. According to the journalist, on the day the article appeared, four of the victim's relatives came to his house and warned him that if he did not write a new piece saying that the man had instead died of a heart attack, he would face consequences. Fearing for his life, Jordán left his home in Zacapa.

According to press reports, several journalists received anonymous threats directly linked to their coverage of the February 19 murder of three Salvadoran congressmen and their driver outside Guatemala City. Erick Salazar, news director for the program "Guatevisión," which airs on the national television station of the same name, said the program received a threatening e-mail with details about Guatevisión staff and their families, the Spanish news service EFE reported. Reporters from a newspaper and two radio stations based in Guatemala City told the local media they had received similar e-mails and calls to their cell phones.

Four journalists were assaulted on April 25 while covering a mob's fatal attack on a purported gang member in the northeastern province of Quiché. Rudy Toledo, a reporter for the Quiché-based Televisión Cable Noticias; Oscar Toledo, correspondent for the national daily Nuestro Diario; Carlos Toledo, correspondent for the news program "TeleDiario" on the national television station Canal 3; and Oscar Figueroa, correspondent for the national radio station Emisoras Unidas, arrived at the scene at 10:30 a.m. According to Figueroa, heavily armed men punched and kicked the journalists, grabbed their equipment, and fired shots at the group, injuring Rudy Toledo in the left leg. Local police intervened and pulled the journalists out of the mob as protesters continued to fire at their car. Toledo was taken to a local hospital, where he received medical attention before being airlifted to Guatemala City. Toledo, though badly injured, recovered from his wounds.

At 7 p.m. on May 3, veteran radio producer Mario Rolando López Sánchez was gunned down outside his home in Guatemala City. López produced the political debate program "Casos y Cosas de la Vida Nacional" and various social programs on national privately owned Radio Sonora. According to the journalist's colleagues and family, he had not received any threats prior to the shooting. However, Arnulfo Agustín Guzmán, director of Radio Sonora, told CPJ that the station had been threatened repeatedly.

Edwin David Hernández, cameraman for the news program "Noti Star" on the national cable channel Star TV, told CPJ that several masked men stopped him on August 27 as he was on his way to cover a protest against the mayor of Cubulco. He was held for three and a half hours, and released after the protest was over. Hernández told CPJ his assailants wanted to stop him from filming the faces of people participating in the protest.

On September 4, five days before the presidential election, an unidentified individual fired a gunshot into the offices of the Guatemala City-based Radio Nuevo Mundo. Marbin Robledo, director of the radio station, told CPJ the gunshot struck close to one of the station's reporters, but no one was injured. The station's staff believed the shot was meant as intimidation for its critical coverage of the presidential campaign, Robledo said.

Journalists killed in 2007 in Guatemala (motive unconfirmed)

Mario Rolando López Sánchez, Radio Sonora
May 3, 2007, Guatemala City

Veteran radio producer López was gunned down outside his home in Guatemala City. López, producer of the political debate program "Cosas y Casos de la Vida Nacional" and various social programs on national privately owned Radio Sonora, was shot at 7 p.m. as he was walking from his car to his home in a northern neighborhood in Guatemala City, according to local press reports and CPJ interviews.

Arnulfo Agustín Guzmán, director of Radio Sonora, told CPJ that López was shot in the head, back, and chest. According to his wife, Blanca Castellano, nothing was stolen from his car or wallet. López was taken to Roosevelt Hospital where he died moments after arrival, according to Guatemalan press reports.

López was one of the founders of Radio Sonora and worked there as a producer for 14 years, Agustín said. His program, "Cosas y Casos de la Vida Nacional," was critical of Guatemalan politics, Agustín added.

According to the journalist's colleagues and family, he had not received threats. However, Agustín told CPJ that the radio station had been repeatedly threatened over the phone. Local authorities were investigating but did not disclose a possible motive.

Copyright notice: © Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from CPJ.

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