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Smear campaign started against journalist who reported on corruption

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 19 April 2010, around 30 women arrived at the facilities of Radio La Voz de la Selva carrying banners with phrases accusing journalist Mary Pérez of being a "terrorist" and a "liar". Pérez is the presenter of the Radio La Voz program "LVS Noticias" and the IPYS correspondent in the city of Iquitos, Loreto region, in northeastern Peru.

The demonstrators shouted insults against the journalist when she invited one of the women to step into the broadcasting booth to explain the motive for their protest. Mary Pérez told IPYS that hearing the woman's vague arguments led her to realize that it was yet another move against her by Loreto's Regional Government, as part of a smear campaign.

According to Pérez, this campaign is a reaction to an allegation broadcast on her program on 16 April. A neighborhood leader accused the regional government of having donated construction materials to the population of one area in exchange for slogans painted on the fronts of their houses supporting the Fuerza Loretana political party, whose leader is the regional president, Iván Vásquez Valera. The official intends to run again for office during the October 2010 electoral campaign.

The demonstration inside the radio station's premises had to be stopped by the police after Vásquez's supporters engaged in a confrontation against a group of followers of the political party Unidos por Loreto (UNIPOL). Pedro Flores, a journalist for the radio station La Exitosa, who arrived at the area to cover the incident, was wounded during the confrontation.

IPYS condemns the campaign against Mary Pérez and demands that the authorities clarify the allegations published by the journalist. IPYS also supports her work, expresses its solidarity with her and will remain vigilant regarding her case.

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