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Residents of Achacachi prevent journalists from covering occupation of former vice-president's lands

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 7 March 2009, journalists from several media outlets said that a group of villagers from nine communities in the settlement of Huatajata who occupied and looted a rural property owned by former Bolivian vice-president, Víctor Hugo Cárdenas, prevented them from carrying out their work. Huatajata is located in the municipality of Achacachi, in the department of La Paz.

A journalist from the Cadena A television station, Ernesto Tejerina, said that when the media attempted to cover the occupation of the former vice-president's lands, the villagers assaulted several camera operators, especially those who work for Cadena A and the Red Uno television network. The camera operators' equipment was not seriously damaged in the incident.

Red Uno reporter Nayma Ramírez said that the mob charged at the journalists and media workers, threatening them with whips.

A photographer from "La Razón" newspaper, David Guzmán, said that the villagers chased him away when he attempted to approach Cárdenas's property.

The National Press Association (Asociación Nacional de la Prensa, ANP) condemned the villagers' actions as they forced their way into Cárdenas's house, beat up his wife, children and other relatives, forced the family out and then looted the property. The villagers accused the vice-president and his family of having supported the "No" campaign in a plebiscite on constitutional reform that took place on 25 January.

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