(FOPEA/IFEX) - 29 December 2011 - FOPEA condemns the psychological trauma and physical attack suffered by journalist Julián Chabert and camera operator Raúl Zalazar, of the Canal 7 station, based in Mendoza. They were covering a story on an estate in Los Corralitos, Guaymallén.
The team was investigating the alleged labour exploitation of 15 Bolivian workers, most of them children. While the journalists were speaking with one woman on the farm, the landlord, Horacio Isgró, gun in hand, threatened Chabert and Zalazar and locked them up in a room. Chabert told FOPEA that Isgró yelled: "Hey you, what are you doing here? You're the worst shit in the world. I'm going to kill you!"
Later, Isgró called his son, who hit the journalists in the legs and arms with an iron bar, made them get undressed, took their phones and locked them up once more. They were also shot at three times - one of the bullets destroyed Zalazar's camera. Before this, Chabert was able to call a colleague and get the police to free them. Their attackers are currently being detained under the jurisdiction of Attorney Claudia Ríos, who is investigating the incident.
FOPEA hopes that those responsible for these attacks and threats will be punished under the full weight of the law and that the provincial authorities will condemn the incident and side in favour of free expression and against these types of attacks on members of the press.
(Please note this is an abridged translation.)