14 May 2008
PAT TV, Megavisión, Sittel television stations' journalists assaulted, Bolivia Unida station attacked during Santa Cruz autonomy referendum
(IPYS/IFEX) - On 4 May 2008, during a referendum vote held on a proposed autonomy statute for Santa Cruz department, several journalists were assualted in the department's capital, the city of Santa Cruz, and other nearby locations.
In the city of Santa Cruz, radio journalist Marítima Maritza Roca was hit in the face by a woman who wanted to denounce what she considered to be electoral fraud, but only to the international press, not to local media.
In the neighborhood known as Plan 3000, government supporters attempted to set fire to a mobile unit of Megavisión television station. Unidentified persons also smashed the windows of a vehicle belonging to PAT television network and threatened a journalist from the newspaper "El Deber".
In the village of Montero, Unitel network camera operator Jose Luis Herrera was struck in the head by a rock. Chandé Lima, photographer for the newspaper "El Norte de Montero", Wilson Castillo of PAT TV network, Vanessa Escobar of Megavisión television station, and Paola Mallea and Jorge Guase, of Sittel television station, also reported having been assaulted while covering the referendum.
In the village of San Julián, the station of Bolivia Unida radio and television network was attacked by a mob of pro-government protesters who condemned the network for broadcasting images from the Unitel network, accused of opposing the government.
Overall, news coverage of the day's events differed very noticeably between media outlets that supported the referendum process and those that opposed it.
Updates alerts on attacks on journalists during the Santa Cruz autonomy referendum: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/93370