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Mayor threatens "to bury" newspaper journalists in Bolivia

(ANP/IFEX) - 3 September 2012 - The mayor of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Percy Fernández, launched accusations and threats against the morning paper El Deber and its journalists, on 1 September 2012, during a speech made at a municipal celebration. Santa Cruz de la Sierra is located 1,000 km from the capital.

Fernández accused the paper of trying to bring about his removal from office and said that he could take actions to “bury” the newspaper. “It's complicated, just yesterday El Deber and its partners tried to take us down . . . I talk about El Deber because it is the only [newspaper] that says straight to my face that it hates me as mayor and the municipal government that I represent,” said the mayor.

In another part of his speech, Fernández threatened to take the paper and its journalists down. “I don't know if they'll end up 6 feet under, or if they won't return home, but something will happen. This is not a threat, it's a conversation. Hopefully we'll talk face to face with the family of Rivero Jordán, with journalists from El Deber, with Tuffi Aré (the chief editor) and all those guys who are opinion writers.”

The Asociación Nacional de la Prensa (ANP) vehemently condemns the threats made by Fernández and states its support for the work of El Deber. The paper's spokespeople criticized the mayor's words and said they will appeal to the relevant authorities and possibly also to the national and international unions to condemn these accusations and threats.

In July 2012, Fernández insulted El Deber's political editor, Leopoldo Vegas, calling him a “donkey” during a press conference. In 2011, the mayor was involved in multiple incidents and filed three law suits for slander. None of the suits has gone forward.

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