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Journalist receives another death threat for criticising illegal coca production; transit workers assault reporters in Cusco

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 2 September 2008, journalist Dante Francisco Espeza received a telephone call in which a man who identified himself as "Julián" warned him that he would be killed if he continued reporting "wrong" information about coca production. The caller assured the journalist that he had received orders to kill him and that he was aware of the movements of Espeza's family members.

The incident took place in the district of San Francisco, Ayacucho region, southern Peru, where Espeza hosts the "Tribuna Libre" programme broadcast by La Pegajosa radio station. Espeza is also a correspondent for the INFOREGIÓN news agency in the Apurímac and Ene river valley, a region were drug traffickers operate and where there are many illegal coca leaf plantations.

Espeza has not ruled out the possibility that drug traffickers themselves or a remnant of the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) guerrilla group working together with the traffickers are behind the threat. On the day that he received the death threat, he had criticised the illegal coca production and spoken about the environmental damages caused by drug trafficking during his "Tribuna Libre" programme.

The journalist also received a previous death threat while broadcasting his radio programme on 9 July.

In a separate development, on 1 September, a group of journalists and camera operators were assaulted by public transit workers who were protesting in front of the local prefect's offices in the city of Cusco, southern Peru.

When they saw the reporters, the demonstrators began to insult, push and hit them to stop them from covering the protest. They also accused them of failing to be impartial and of not supporting their cause, including their demand to raise the fares for public transport.

The reporters were forced to flee because of the aggressive actions of the transit workers.

For further information on the previous death threat against Espeza, see:

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