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Newspaper editors threatened after reporting on possible links between individuals close to the president and alleged smuggling operation

(IPYS/IFEX) - Since 9 December 2008, Raphael Ramírez and Juan Carlos Véliz, editors of the "La Prensa" newspaper, have constantly been receiving telephone calls in which the callers threaten to beat them up or warn that they knows which journalist was the author of a report about goods that were smuggled to Brazil. The report implied that a number of people in President Evo Morales's circle might be involved in the smuggling. The threats against the editors were reported by the editor-in-chief of "La Prensa", Carlos Morales.

Véliz, the editor of "La Prensa"'s political section, received a threatening telephone call on the same day that President Evo Morales criticised Ramírez, who is the editor of the newspaper's "Al Filo" section, publicly rebuking him for the newspaper's informative style. Véliz's wife received the threatening telephone message.

Since that day, Ramírez has received threats on both his cellular and his home telephone, as has Véliz, who has been told, "We are following you" or "We know where you live."

Carlos Morales sent a letter regarding the threats to the National Press Association (Asociación Nacional de la Prensa, ANP). He has requested that the government implement measures to ensure that the newspaper will be able to continue working and asked specifically for protection for Ramírez.
The media outlet's executives requested that the Special Crime Fighting Force (Fuerza Especial de Lucha Contra el Crimen, FELCC) provide protection for the journalists and their families.

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