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Three journalists receive death threats in El Salvador; editor harassed in Venezuela

IAPA calls for investigation into incidents in Bolivia, El Salvador, Venezuela

(IAPA/IFEX) - Miami (July 30, 2009) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today called on officials in Bolivia, El Salvador and Venezuela to quickly investigate the acts of violence and intimidation reported in recent days against journalists in those countries.

In Bolivia, cameraman Marcelo Lobo of Gigavisión TV in La Paz was attacked as he was leaving work on Saturday (July 25) at 6:00 a.m. by unidentified assailants who slashed his face and tongue. While the motive for the attack was not immediately known, the channel's director, Alex Arias, told local media that he did not rule out that it was linked to Lobo's work on public safety and terrorism issues.

In El Salvador, Radio Victoria reporters José Beltrán, Ludwing Iraheta and Vladimir Abarca in the northern central province of Cabañas received death threats that led them to request official protection. The trio had recently covered the murder of Gustavo Marcelo Rivera, a well-known local environmentalist missing since mid-June. In phone threats the reporters had been warned "you will be next."

In Venezuela, David Natera Febres, editor of the newspaper Correo del Caroní in Puerto Ordaz, Bolívar, and president of the Venezuelan Press Bloc reported that on Tuesday (July 27) he was harassed by the National Guard (GN) when he was the only passenger stopped and searched by GN officers upon landing in Puerto Ordaz from Simón Bolívar International Airport in Maiquetía.

IAPA President Enrique Santos Calderón and the chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Robert Rivard, expressed their objection to "this development which shows all the signs of being an obvious attempt to intimidate a public figure known for his critical and independent editorial positions."

Natera is also regional vice chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information and is responsible for drafting the report on his country submitted at the organization's biannual meetings.

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