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Peruvian journalist threatened over coverage of regional strike and mining

On 24 April 2014, journalist Manuel Calloquispe Flores, correspondent for INFOREGIÓN and director of América TV program “La Cara del Pueblo”, requested personal protection from the Government of Madre de Dios, after he was threatened several times as a result of his coverage of a regional strike that has annoyed illegal miners in the area. Madre de Dios is a region in southeastern Peru.

The journalist told IPYS he fears for his safety and that of his family since he has been a “target of attacks" for several months. This has been the result of the public incitement of other journalists, such as Diómedes Maquera Cotrado, Isaac Yabar Irarica and Percy Núñez Sosa, who from their radio spaces support the so-called strike against the monitoring of controlled inputs in this region, which opposes a law that sets a maximum quota of gasoline and oil to prevent them from being used in illegal mining.

Maquera, Yabar and Nuñez accuse Calloquispe of supporting the central government and being against the strike. The journalist's life is in danger as the protests go on in that province and Calloquispe Flores continues his informative work on the streets of Puerto Maldonado, an area that is being disrupted by illegal mining.

On 18 April, Maquera Cotrado scoffed at the formal complaint filed by Calloquispe at the Prosecutor's Office after being beaten, threatened and driven from the streets by the leader Florentino Sucso Cunurama and 15 demonstrators during the coverage of a protest. Maquera used derogatory terms against his colleague and called him a “traitor”, as he had previously done. He also appealed to the masses, in what was an evident threat on Calloquispe's life, asking them to find him and take him to the square in order to drive him out of the city.

Via his television program and his reports for media outlets in Lima Calloquispe Flores has denounced the environmental devastation and the corruption caused by illegal mining in Madre de Dios. This has resulted in continuous attacks by illegal miners and even the regional authorities themselves who are allegedly in collusion with those who promote and perform this illegal activity, related to other crimes such as human trafficking, environmental damage and tax evasion.

The Peruvian government, in order to ensure the health of the population, public safety, the preservation of the natural heritage and fragile ecosystems, tax collection and the development of sustainable activities, has launched a national strategy that aims to eradicate the main sites of illegal mining and reduce related offenses. But interest groups in the area have gone on strike causing several violent incidents.

IPYS condemns the threats against the journalist and calls on the authorities to grant the necessary guarantees for his safety.

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