Category: The Americas, Peru
By: Mariela Hoyer Guerrero

Peruvian Journalist Shot Dead

Pedro Flores Had Received Threats

Peruvian police women march during a military parade to celebrate Peru's Independence Day in Lima, 29 July, 2011. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

By: Mariela Hoyer Guerrero

VIENNA, 8 Sep. 2011 – Peruvian journalist Pedro Flores Silva, 36, died today after hovering between life and death since Tuesday night, when he was shot by a hooded individual while he was on his way home, the Press and Society Institute (IPYS) reported.

On 6 September an unidentified person following the journalist, who was riding on a motorcycle, shot the television reporter in the stomach, damaging part of his liver and colon.

Diagnosed with severe internal bleeding and infection due to the bullet, Flores was taken from one hospital to another, and then remained in intensive care after undergoing complex surgery. He died in Nuevo Chimbote, in the Ancash region of northern Peru.

Mercedes Cueva, the journalist’s wife, told the local press that he had received death threats in recent months in the form of text messages to his mobile phone. She linked these threats to his work on a television program broadcast by Channel 6 in the region of Ancash.

“It all started when my husband began to criticize Marco Rivera Huertas, the district mayor of Comandante Noel,” Cueva told La República newspaper. She said the politician had accused Flores of defamation two months ago after he reported about alleged acts of corruption.

After the incident, the mayor publicly denied having any connection with the attack, although he acknowledged the defamation lawsuit against the journalist. He told the press that he and Flores were formerly friends, but Rivero claimed that after he won the elections and refused to hire Flores, the reporter began to criticize his activity.

Cueva said her husband had previously been the target of intimidation, adding: “I do not want to blame anybody, but they wanted to kill my husband because of his work. This was an attack against freedom of expression.”

One month ago, also in the region of Ancash, journalist Humberto Espinoza Maguiña received a bullet as a death threat, with a letter that read, “Shut up unless you want this bullet to end up in your head.” The message warned him to “stop bothering so many people,” according to the local press.

Espinoza was the director of radio Ancash and the newspaper Prensa Regional in Huaraz. He is the second journalist to be killed in Peru this year. He and reporter Julio Castillo Narváez were both killed in the northern Peru, statistically the most unsafe region in the country, IPYS reported.