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Journalist's car set on fire

(FOPEA/IFEX) - In the early hours of 28 March 2010, journalist Adela Gómez's car was set on fire. The car was parked in front of the journalist's house in the town of Caleta Olivia, Santa Cruz province. Gómez is a reporter for Radio 21 in Caleta Olivia. FOPEA condemns the arson attack and demands that the justice department investigate the incident and that the provincial government take action to guarantee freedom of expression in the province.

In the early morning hours of 28 March, between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m., Gómez's car was doused with a flammable liquid and set on fire. The neighbours alerted her to the blaze. The police are investigating the incident as arson. This is not the first time that the journalist has been targeted. In 2007, Gómez was covering a protest when soldiers from the national army shot her seven times with rubber bullets.

"My children say, 'They already shot you seven times, they burned down your car. It's clear they are after you,'" said Gómez at a press conference. Gómez hinted at the possibility that she would stop working as a journalist after these incidents.

"This attack endangered Adela's life," said César Amaya, the director of Radio 21 and a lawyer. Amaya said that he believed the arson attack had been planned. "Either they followed her or they were waiting for her, and 15 minutes after she went to bed, they coldly set fire to her car," he said. "This wasn't a random attack; it was planned."

There are no suspects in the attack but Amaya believes it is related to the radio station's critical reporting in the last few months. "We don't investigate common crimes. We have begun to touch on topics that take a closer look at the political classes."

FOPEA tried to reach the Public Information secretary and the police chief of Caleta Olivia, but did not receive a response. However, the municipality expressed solidarity with Gómez.

In another incident, the same night that Gómez's car was set on fire, the front window of journalist Nelson Aguilar's house was broken. Aguilar, who runs the website, lives four blocks from Gómez. "At first I thought it was vandalism, but once I found out what happened to Adela, I began to have second thoughts," Aguilar told FOPEA. He was very careful to say that there is no indication that the two incidents are related, and he emphasised the seriousness of the attack againt Gómez.

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