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Residents of the community of Quila Quila assault reporters in Sucre; former official's supporters harass, assault journalists in La Paz

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 9 February 2009, journalist Gonzalo Ibáñez, the director of the "De cabo a rabo" programme, and his camera operator, Rimar Bejarano, were beaten with whips by residents of the indigenous community of Quila Quila, who had been holding a vigil for more than a week in front of the Chuquisaca government buildings to demand approval of their application for legal status. The incident took place in the town of Sucre, southern Bolivia.

The reporters were covering the vigil when indigenous leader Hilarión Chávez realised that they work for the Televisora Canal 13 television station and demanded that they stop filming. Canal 13 has been accused of "demonizing" the community's actions.

According to Ibáñez, the community members then attempted to seize their camera and began to whip them, leaving Ibáñez with a cut on his face.

Ibañez filed a complaint about the incident with the police. The police told the reporters that they would ensure their safety.

In a separate incident, on 6 February, a group of supporters of Santos Ramírez Valverde, the former head of the state-run petroleum company Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivarianos (YPFB), prevented journalists from obtaining statements from the former official, who is facing allegations of having been involved in acts of corruption. The incident took place in La Paz, Bolivia's capital.
When reporters attempted to approach Ramírez as he was heading to the Prosecutor's Office to testify in the corruption case, his supporters intervened, preventing the journalists from carrying out their work by assaulting and hurling insults at them.

The journalists affected include Daniela Romero, of "La Razón" newspaper, and Israel Gutiérrez, of the UNO TV network.

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