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Head of local government in Puerto Iguazú assaults journalist

(FOPEA/IFEX) - FOPEA condemns the actions taken by Claudio Raúl Filippa, the head of the local government in Puerto Iguazú, against Viviana Villar, a journalist for the Canal CVI 5 television station. Puerto Iguazú is located in the province of Misiones.

On the morning of 18 October 2009, Filippa hurled insults at Villar and assaulted her when she and her camera operator were covering an event along with other journalists. Assuming that the media personnel were taking photographs of him, Filippa approached Villar and grabbed her by the hair. He then proceeded to insult her, calling her "stupid" and saying that she was always out to get him.

Villar explained to FOPEA that they did not intend to film Filippa and their cameras were actually turned off when the official came after her. Six bystanders were able to confirm that the assault took place and Villar has filed a complaint with the Puerto Iguazú Police.

In a subsequent radio interview on 19 October, Filippa went on making offensive and derogatory comments about Villar. Likewise, local councilor Adán Nolazco, who is from the same political party as Filippa, the Renewal Front (Frente Renovador), made comments on a radio broadcast saying that his colleague acted in an appropriate manner since the journalist was being influenced by the opposition political interests of the owner of the television station where she works. The journalist, however, told FOPEA that this was not true and that she has not been given instructions to this effect by the owner of the media outlet.

FOPEA tried on numerous occasions, without success, to contact both Filippa and Nolazco.

This is not the first time that FOPEA has publicised information about the aggressive manner in which the head of the Puerto Iguazú government deals with the press.

FOPEA calls on the authorities to implement the necessary measures to ensure that attacks of this nature against freedom of expression are not repeated.

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