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Drug traffickers on lookout for journalists in Huehuetenango

(CERIGUA/IFEX) - Correspondents for the dailies "Prensa Libre", "Al Día" and "Nuestro Diario", as well as the "Mi Región" supplement in the "El Quetzalteco" newspaper, are being sought by drug traffickers in the western department of Huehuetenango, located approximately 250 kilometres from Guatemala City. "Nuestro Diario" contributor Ronald López told CERIGUA that, on 19 October 2009 the journalists covered an incident in which three people were killed in the community of Los Tarayes, in the municipality of La Democracia. Among the dead was the bodyguard of Eduardo Cano, who is thought to be the leader of the Las Zetas crime group in Huehuetenango.

When the story was published the next day a man known by the alias of "Tripas", who is a brother-in-law to Cano, threatened a newspaper vendor and told him to provide the names of the reporters who covered the story. He also seized the copies of both "Prensa Libre" and "Nuestro Diario" to prevent them from being distributed in the communities of Camojá, La Mesilla and La Democracia.

López said that the newspaper vendor warned him that he was being sought after. As a result, he decided to leave the department, fearing for his life and that of his family. He added that he has not received any assistance from "Nuestro Diario". He also noted that he has been in a similar situation on a previous occasion, when he covered a story about an extortionist who turned out to be the nephew of a drug trafficker. He said that in that instance, he was threatened but did not receive support from either the newspaper or the authorities.

Correspondent Mynor Mérida said that two days after covering the story in Los Tarayes, a man in a red Hummer asked him if he had been "below", referring to the municipality of La Democracia. Mérida said he has holed himself up in his home and is afraid to go out.

The journalists said that the situation for the press in the area has become more difficult since a November 2008 "narcokilling" in the community of Agua Zarca, Huehuetenango, that left 17 people dead.


RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Send appeals to the authorities, especially to those responsible for public security:
- calling on them to ensure the safety of the journalists


APPEALS TO:

Ruth del Valle
Comisionada Presidencial de los Derechos Humanos
(Presidential High Commissioner for Human Rights)
2a. Avenida 10-50, zona 9
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2334 0119

Sergio Morales Alvarado
Procurador de los Derechos Humanos
(Human Rights Ombudsman)
12 Avenida 12-72, zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2424 1717
E-mail: [email protected]

Fiscalía Especial de Delitos contra Periodistas y Sindicalistas
(Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists and Trade Unionists)
Ministerio Público
7a. Avenida 11-20, zona 1, segundo nivel
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2220 6873

Oficina del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas Sobre Derechos Humanos para Guatemala
(Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala)
13 calle 3-40, zona 10, Edifico Atlantils, oficina 803
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2382 3410
E-mail: [email protected]

Raúl Velásquez
Ministro de Gobernación
(Interior Minister)
6a. Avenida 4-64, zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2362 0237 / 2339 4474
E-mail: [email protected]

Baltazar Gómez
Director de la Policía Nacional Civil
(Director, National Police)
Dirección General de la Policía Nacional Civil
6a. Avenida 13-71, zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2238 1474

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

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