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Congressional candidate dismisses journalist, attempts to intimidate television correspondent

(CERIGUA/IFEX) - Herber Cabrera, a congressional candidate for the Patriot Party (PP, Partido Patriota) in the northern Guatemalan municipality of Ixcán, dismissed radio journalist Francisco Pérez, apparently because Pérez refused to support Cabrera's election campaign.

The journalist, who hosts the "Ixcán News Centre" (CNI, Centro de Noticias de Ixcán) programme broadcast by Radio Ixcán, reported to CERIGUA that Cabrera told him on 20 June 2011 that he was being dismissed, saying that it was because of a staff restructuring plan. The politican, who is the director of ADEL Ixcán, the development agency that administers Radio Ixcán, had, however, previously asked Pérez to support his election campaign, requesting that he wear the political party's colour and that he moderate a forum on 2 July, when the leader of the party was scheduled to visit the area. The journalist refused Cabrera's request, citing ethical reasons.

On 22 June, Pérez said goodbye to his audience and colleagues who had supported him when the programme was on the air. This angered Cabrera's son, Marvin, who ordered him out of the broadcast booth. The journalist refused to leave and instead cut an electrical connection, taking the station off the air.

Subsequently, Santiago Botón, a local correspondent for the "Guatevisión" news programme, broadcast by the Guatevisión television station, arrived to cover the story of Pérez's dismissal. Botón said that when he was about to enter the radio station, Cabrera drove towards him at high speed and stopped just behind him. When the correspondent complained about his actions, Cabrera said mockingly, "Don't worry, the brakes are in good shape."

CERIGUA condemns these actions that represent an attack on freedom of expression. In June alone four journalists have been subjected to various forms of harassment by candidates in the 2011 election race.


RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Send appeals to the authorities calling on them to defend freedom of expression and ensure that media personnel can carry out their work during the election period, when attacks on journalists often become more frequent.


APPEALS TO:

Ruth del Valle
Comisionada Presidencial de los Derechos Humanos
(Presidential Human Rights Commissioner)
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 Union Members)
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 UN 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]

Carlos Menocal
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]

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

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