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RADIO REPORTER FOUND ALIVE 17 MONTHS AFTER DISAPPEARING

A Paraguayan radio reporter who disappeared shortly after denouncing the connection between the mafia and local politicians in his home town was found alive in Brazil 17 months later, report the Union of Paraguayan Journalists (Sindicato de Periodistas del Paraguay, SPP) and other press freedom groups.

Enrique "Kike" Galeano, a reporter for Radio Azofey, resurfaced last week in São Paulo, Brazil, after he went missing in northern Paraguay in February 2006.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF), Galeano said that he was abducted on his way home in Yby Yaú from work by two men he believed to be part of a Brazilian mafia group. He was abused by his kidnappers and taken to Brazil where he was told he would die if he ever tried to return to Paraguay. The kidnappers also threatened to kill his son if he did not comply. Galeano is now in Uruguay seeking political asylum.

Shortly before he disappeared, Galeano had reported on the seizure of a consignment of weapons and cocaine involving drug traffickers and local authorities who had links to the armed group, reports SPP. "The worst of all is Kike's confirmation of our presumption that some criminal organisations could have strong links to the official party's politicians," SPP says. "The family is threatened by the same sector."

Galeano's disappearance was not an isolated event, SPP maintains, pointing out that at least 40 deaths in Yby Yaú have not been investigated in the past 10 years, according to the "Senators Human Rights Report 2005-2006". "The consequences of inaction, cover-ups and apparent complicity of the state in his forced disappearance affect all citizens of Paraguay," says SPP.

Elsewhere in Paraguay, a number of community radio stations have been closed down through court cases brought on by commercial radio stations tied to the president, reports the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC).

Several stations belonging to the Paraguayan Association of Community Communication (Asociación Paraguaya de Comunicación Comunitaria, COMUNICA), a network of more than 50 radio stations run by peasant, worker, cultural, youth and neighbourhood organisations, have been shut down through the courts in Caaguazú department, the political riding of President Nicanor Duarte Frutos. AMARC blames the discretional way frequencies to community radio stations are allocated, noting that 80 percent of stations that have received official approval to operate are affiliated to the ruling party and its allies.

Visit these links:
- SPP, email: [email protected]
- CPJ: http://tinyurl.com/3arzjd
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=22948
- AMARC: http://legislaciones.amarc.org
(17 July 2007)

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