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Journalist assaulted in La Leonesa, Chaco

(FOPEA/IFEX) - On 9 February 2010, journalist Dante Gustavo Fernández was assaulted when he went to the town of La Leonesa, in the province of Chaco, to cover protests that were being held by the community's residents against the aerial spraying of fumigants on rice crops. Fernández is the director of the FM Frontera radio station, which is based in Las Palmas. He is also the host of the "La Mañana de Todos" programme.

Just as Fernández was about to start broadcasting from La Leonesa, the head of the local government, José Ramón Carbajal, of the Justicialist Party, arrived. Two of Carbajal's supporters got out of his vehicle and began beating Fernández.

Fernández told FLIP that Carbajal did not try to stop his assailants from beating him.

Carbajal himself admitted to FLIP that the incident took place and that two people who work with him were involved, but said that their actions consisted of "some shoving" and were not violent in nature." "I separated them", he said, adding that they are "tired of the journalist's critical attitude toward the municipality and those who work for it, which has caused a lot of problems and is the reason why incidents such as this take place.”

It should be noted that in May 2009, Carbajal and his wife, provincial member of congress Elda Insaurralde, sent an official document to Fernández calling on him to "stop disseminating unfounded complaints against (them)." In the document, they also requested that the journalist provide the cell phone numbers from which complaints against them that Fernández had broadcast originated. They warned him that he would face legal action if he failed to comply with their request.

FOPEA condemns the actions against Fernández and views them as an attempt to hinder the journalist's work, especially when the document sent to him in 2009 is also taken into consideration. The organisation calls on the authorities to investigate the incident and bring those responsible for the actions against the journalist to justice.

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