New York, April 8, 2008--Bolivian authorities must thoroughly investigate and promptly bring to justice those responsible for the slaying of Carlos Quispe Quispe, a journalist working for a government-run radio station in Pucarani, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Quispe died March 29 after being severely beaten two days earlier by protesters demanding the ouster of the local mayor.
On the afternoon of March 27, at least 150 protesters rallied outside the government building in Pucarani, a small city about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the capital, La Paz, and called for the ouster of Mayor Alejandro Mamani. The mayor had been accused of corruption, according to local press reports and CPJ interviews. The protesters forced their way into the municipal building and broke down the door to the government-run Radio Municipal. Witnesses told radio station Onda Local that demonstrators destroyed station equipment and identified Quispe as "the mouth on the radio."
Protestors wielding whips and metal rods beat Quispe in the head and chest, said an official from the mayor's office who spoke to CPJ on condition of anonymity. Quispe, a journalism student at La Paz's Universidad Mayor de San Andrés who had worked as an intern at Radio Municipal for three months, was taken to a clinic in Pucarani and later to a hospital in La Paz to, according to reports in the Bolivian press. Quispe died on March 29 from unspecified complications, the Spanish news service EFE reported.
"We're outraged by this brutal murder, and we call on authorities to conduct a thorough investigation that will bring all those responsible to justice," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "The fact that this was carried out by a mob should not shield the individuals involved from responsibility."
Radio Municipal, the only radio station in Pucarani, provided government information and community news, according to Bolivian journalists. Quispe delivered a daily noontime news report, Juan Javier Zeballos, executive director of the National Press Association, told CPJ. Quispe also hosted a nightly music program and often interviewed Mamani, who talked about government projects and fielded questions from listeners.
Wilson Arteaga, a reporter for Onda Local who traveled to Pucarani to investigate the incident, told CPJ that the Radio Municipal's facilities were destroyed. The radio station has been off the air since. Local police do not have a telephone and CPJ was unable to contact them.