IPI urges investigation into murder of Guatemalan journalist
Violence against the media in Central American country appears to spike
By: Scott Griffen, Press Freedom Adviser for Latin America and the Caribbean
VIENNA, Aug. 20, 2013 – The International Press Institute (IPI) today expressed renewed concern over what appears to a rising level of violence against journalists in Guatemala after reporter Carlos Alberto Orellana Chávez was shot dead in the southern province of Suchitepéquez.
According to news reports, local police have preliminarily suggested robbery as a motive in Orellana’s murder, given that the journalist’s car was missing from the crime scene. The killing is the third armed assault involving a Guatemalan journalist this month: on Aug. 7, Jesús Lima was shot to death in Zacapa province; and on Aug. 13, Fredy Rodas was shot and wounded, also in Suchitepéquez province.
“Guatemalan police should thoroughly investigate the murder of Carlos Alberto Orellana Chávez and should not rule out the possibility that Mr. Orellana was killed because of his profession,” IPI Director of Communications and Public Relations Anthony Mills said.
“IPI is extremely concerned at the rising number of violent attacks against journalists in Guatemala, where more journalists have been killed this year than in any other country in the Western Hemisphere except Brazil and Mexico. The Guatemalan government must make it clear that attacks on the media will not be tolerated and that those responsible for murdering journalists will be brought swiftly and unconditionally to justice,” Mills added.
Orellana hosted two news-oriented programs for Óptimo 23, a regional television station. In addition to previously working as a radio reporter, he served as the mayor of the provincial capital of Mazatenango from 2000-2004, local reports say. Police discovered his body along a highway close to the village of Nueva Linda, some 50 km from Mazatenago.
Rodas, a correspondent for the newspaper Al Día and Radio Sonora, was shot at least three times while leaving a store in Mazatenango and later transferred to a hospital in Guatemala City. Last Friday, police announced that a suspect had been arrested in connection with the attack, though no motive has been announced.
In April, journalist Luis Alberto Lemus Ruano, manager of Radio Stereo Café, was killed in Jutiapa province, where he also served as vice-president of the provincial journalist association. In March, Jaime Jarquín, a reporter at Nuestro Diario, a newspaper noted for its coverage of violence, was murdered in Ciudad Pedro de Alvaro, municipality of Moyuta, on March 22. Jarquín was also affiliated with the Association of Guatemalan Journalists (APG, according to its Spanish acronym), the biggest Guatemalan press organisation.