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Journalist and community leader assassinated in Buenos Aires shanty town

(FOPEA/IFEX) - FOPEA condemns the assassination of community leader and journalist Adams Ledesma Valenzuela, director of the cable channel Mundo TV Villa. Ledesma Valenzuela was based in the "Villa 31" shanty town, in Buenos Aires's Retiro neighbourhood. If the murder was related to the journalist's profession, this would be one of the most serious attacks on freedom of expression in Argentina since the country's return to democracy in 1983.

At dawn on 4 September 2010, Ledesma Valenzuela was woken by a neighbour who informed him about an electrical problem. When the journalist went to check on the problem, he was stabbed several times. He was 41 years old and had six children.

The journalist's wife, Ruth Marlene Torrico Sandoval, told FOPEA that an ambulance came to her home three hours after the attack. A medic, possibly a forensic doctor, had arrived an hour and a half before.

The widow also said that she had been threatened. "Your husband is gone, the same thing is going to happen to you if you don't take your children and get out of here," unidentified individuals shouted at her after she found her husband's body on the street. During the funeral, the cleaning lady was also threatened. The journalist's widow received threats again on the afternoon of 5 September.

The killers and the motive for the murder are not yet known. The authorities are exploring various theories.

For years Ledesma Valenzuela had been organising a number of social and cultural activities in the neighbourhood. Courses on journalism, photography and drawing were held in a space he constructed next to his house. He was a correspondent for the "Mundo Villa" newspaper and was also working on the launch of original programming on the Mundo Villa TV cable station. For the time being, the channel retransmitted television programmes from Paraguay, Bolivia, Chile and other Latin American countries. The signal reached the shanty towns in Retiro and Bajo Flores.

FOPEA urges the authorities to shed light on the crime and ensure that the journalist's family receives protection. FOPEA also calls for conditions such that journalists can freely and safely practice their profession throughout the country.

(Please note this is an abridged translation)
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