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FOPEA concerned about actions against journalists in Andalgalá, Catamarca

(FOPEA/IFEX) - FOPEA calls for journalists to be allowed to carry out their work free from pressure tactics, threats or fear of assault in the midst of the conflictive situation that exists in the Andalgalá area of the province of Catamarca, in west central Argentina. In Andalgalá, protests by local residents, who have been speaking out against the Agua Rica mining venture, have been quashed by the security forces.

The strong economic and social interests associated with the mining industry in several provinces are functioning, at times, as a gag on journalists who try to offer a perspective that reflects the differing positions in the conflict. Both companies and provincial and municipal governments, as well as the directors of media outlet and protest groups, have restricted the work of journalists.

FOPEA was informed of two disturbing incidents that took place on 15 February 2010. In the first case, journalist Nicolás Ziggiotto and camera operator Lucas Oláz, of the Canal 10 cable television station, were shoved, kicked, verbally assaulted and had their equipment stolen. In the second incident, María Márquez, a La Perla FM radio station announcer, received anonymous death threats.

FOPEA brings this situation to the attention of the mining companies and media outlets that receive advertising moneys from mining companies, as well as local governments that are supportive of the mining ventures, since, according to statements given by several journalists on condition of anonymity, the pressure they are subjected to is coming from these sectors.

FOPEA calls on the Catamarca authorities and the national government to not only assure a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Andalgalá and freedom for residents to express themselves via demonstrations, but also to provide the conditions necessary for journalists to be able to carry out their work.

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