Journalists Killed  |  Paraguay

Merardo Alejandro Romero Chávez

La Voz de Ytakyry

March 3, 2011, in Ytakyry, Paraguay

Armed men shot Romero, 49, in his home in front of his children, according to press reports. Romero was the host of a political talk show on the community radio station La Voz de Ytakyry and was a member of the local Esperanza Colorada political party.

In the days after the murder, Romero's widow, Gloria Torres, told reporters that her husband had said that three members of a rival political party would be responsible if anything happened to him: Miguel Angel Soria, former mayor of Ytakyry; José Valenzuela, Soria's chief political adviser; and Hugo Barreto, the mayor. Soria, a powerful figure in local politics, told reporters that neither he nor Valenzuela had anything to do with the murder and that he hoped authorities would solve the crime. All three men denied the accusations to authorities.

Romero had accused Soria of corruption, news reports said. At the time, Soria was a candidate for a senior position in the Honor Colarado political party, news reports said.

The journalist's wife said Romero had received multiple death threats by phone and text message, the most recent coming two weeks before the murder. Authorities allegedly tracked the phone threats to Valenzuela and determined that he had offered the gunmen US$2,000 to commit the murder, press reports said.

Authorities arrested three men in September and October 2011, and charged them with planning and carrying out the murder, news reports said. Investigators said they connected the suspects to Valenzuela and charged him with being the mastermind. Valenzuela's whereabouts were not immediately known, however, and he was considered a fugitive. Investigators said they were investigating Romero's political activity and his journalism as possible motives.


Motive Unconfirmed: CPJ is investigating to determine whether the death was work-related.


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