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Protesting teachers assault journalists following report on their leader

(CERIGUA/IFEX) - At least four journalists were physically and verbally assaulted by protesting teachers while attempting to cover a demonstration taking place in front of the National Palace of Culture ( Palacio Nacional de la Cultura).

Among the journalists mistreated were Raúl Morales of Radio Sonora, Karen de la Rosa and Hugo Palma of the television station Guatevisión, and Gladis Ramírez of "Siglo Veintiuno" newspaper.

Erick Salazar, co-director of Guatevisión's news programme, said that in De la Rosa's case, the attack had been verbal only. He told CERIGUA that is was unfortunate that the protesting teachers hold such a negative opinion of the media. Salazar explained that a conflict between the teacher's organization, Asamblea Nacional Magisterial (ANM) and a print media outlet had begun a few days before, when the media outlet published a story on the family of Jovial Acevedo, the leader of the ANM.

Since then, the teachers have been hostile toward all media outlets, without distinction.

"It is difficult for a journalist to continue reporting objectively when he or she is continually harassed and called a liar," added Salazar.

While the leaders of the teachers have apologized for the incident, Salazar holds them responsible for not having defused tensions by calling for restraint and reflection by ANM members.

According to various media reports, some teachers who were somewhat inebriated at the time kicked journalist Raúl Morales and tried to seize his cellular telephone.

The Chiquimula education department's director, Octavio Villeda, told Radio Sonora that he saw the assault on Morales on television and could identify one of his assailants as the teacher Juan José Villanueva.

The authorities are investigating the incident, which has also been condemned by the Guatemalan Journalists' Association (Asociación de Periodistas de Guatemala, APG).

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