Guatemala

Who is killing Central America's journalists?

Amid the violence and instability in Central America, Honduras and Guatemala have experienced an alarming rise in the number of murders of, and attacks against, journalists. Near complete impunity means the cases go mostly unsolved and the motives unexplained. As fear grips newsrooms in both countries, critical media outlets and journalists find they are reined in by governments increasingly intolerant of dissent.

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Reports   |   Guatemala, Honduras

Who is killing Central America's journalists?

Widespread violence and impunity leave murders unsolved

Amid the violence and instability caused by organized crime and corruption in Central America, Honduras and Guatemala have experienced an alarming rise in the number of murders of, and attacks against, journalists. Near complete impunity for these crimes means the cases go mostly unsolved and the motives unexplained. As fear grips newsrooms in both countries, critical media outlets and journalists find they are reined in by governments increasingly intolerant of dissent. A CPJ special report by Sara Rafsky.

A man sells keychains showing murdered Honduran radio host Ángel Alfredo Villatoro. (AFP/Orlando Sierra)

Attacks on the Press   |   Guatemala

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Guatemala

Journalists covering sensitive issues like crime and corruption faced a climate of increased intimidation and violence in 2013. One journalist was killed under unclear circumstances. CPJ continues to investigate to determine if the killing was work-related. Another journalist survived an assassination attempt, and the owner, staff, and website of the daily elPeriódico, which is known for its investigations of government corruption, were repeatedly targeted with threats, intimidation, and attacks. The country closely followed the dramatic prosecution of General José Efraín Rios Montt, the former military leader of Guatemala, on allegations of human rights violations during part of the country’s decades-long civil war, when press freedom was severely restricted. His historic conviction was overturned, and the future of the case was uncertain, with Rios Montt under house arrest. The private office in Guatemala City of the special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, was broken into in unclear circumstances. The local press freedom group CERIGUA documented at least 54 cases of attacks on the press in 2013, many of which were concentrated in the department of Guatemala, where the capital city is situated. In light of growing anti-press violations, the government announced the creation of a protection mechanism for journalists who have been threatened.

February 12, 2014 1:49 AM ET

Alerts   |   Guatemala

Guatemalan government targets elPeriódico editor

New York, January 8, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns legal efforts in the past weeks by the president and vice president of Guatemala that are designed to stifle critical reporting by elPeriódico and its editor, José Rubén Zamora Marroquín. Over the course of the past year, the Guatemala City-based daily has published a series of articles, including many opinion columns by Zamora, that have alleged corruption or ties to organized crime within the government.

Blog   |   CPJ, France, Guatemala

Defining success in the fight against impunity

For the second time this year, the U.N. Security Council took up the issue of protection of journalists. In a discussion today sponsored by the French and Guatemalan delegations, and open to NGOs, speaker after speaker and country after country hammered home the same essential facts: The vast majority of journalists murdered around the world are local reporters working in their own country, covering human rights, corruption, conflict and politics. In nine out of ten of these murders, no one is ever prosecuted.

December 13, 2013 5:24 PM ET

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Alerts   |   Guatemala

One journalist murdered, another attacked, in Guatemala

New York, August 20, 2013--Authorities in Guatemala should conduct a full investigation into the murder of a TV and radio journalist who was found on Monday after being reported missing for several hours, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Carlos Alberto Orellana Chávez was killed seven days after another journalist was shot and wounded in the same state.

Alerts   |   Guatemala

Guatemalan outlet harassed after critical reporting

New York, May 2, 2013--The Guatemalan news outlet elPeriódico has been targeted in a series of cyberattacks as it published stories alleging corruption in President Otto Pérez Molina's administration. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities to investigate immediately and put an end to the harassment.

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CPJ urges OAS not to weaken human rights system

Dear OAS Ministers of Foreign Affairs: Ahead of the assembly of the Organization of American States on Friday, the Committee to Protect Journalists urges you to oppose any attempts to debilitate the regional human rights system. The failure of member states to preserve the autonomy and independence of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and its special rapporteur on freedom of expression would make citizens throughout the hemisphere more vulnerable to human rights violations and represent a blow to democracy in the Americas.

March 18, 2013 12:40 PM ET

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Blog   |   Guatemala

Displaced by threats, old life gives way to new

A soldier patrols a lake in the town of Panajachel, where journalist Lucía Escobar used to live. (AFP/Orlando Sierra)

For seven years I lived in Panajachel, a tourist town on the beautiful Atitlán Lake in Guatemala. There, my husband, Juan Miguel Arrivillaga, and I started a family and the independent news outlet Anti Magazine. We also hosted a radio program on the local station Radio Ati.

June 19, 2012 12:04 AM ET

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Attacks on the Press   |   Guatemala

Attacks on the Press in 2011: Guatemala

Journalists increasingly practiced self-censorship as Mexican drug cartels expanded their presence in Guatemala. In May, criminals in four provinces hung banners in public places, threatening journalists with harm if gang activities were covered. A television journalist in southern Escuintla province was killed under unclear circumstances after receiving several threats. While the rise of criminal groups posed a growing risk, journalists also faced danger for coverage of official corruption and domestic security issues. In the southwestern city of Quetzaltenango, a television journalist and his family escaped injury when their van came under gunfire. The reporter had received death threats related to his coverage of police corruption. A columnist in the western city of Panajachel was forced to relocate after receiving a series of intimidating text messages concerning her coverage of a citizen security committee. The local press group CERIGUA documented an increase in press freedom violations in the months leading up to the November presidential elections, as well as a number of assaults and threats against journalists on Election Day. Otto Pérez Molina, a retired general running on the conservative Patriotic Party ticket, defeated businessman Manuel Baldizón in a runoff. Facing a murder rate among the highest in the world, Pérez pledged a tough approach on crime.              

February 21, 2012 12:41 AM ET

Alerts   |   Guatemala

Guatemalan journalist flees city after threats, harassment

New York, November 1, 2011--A Guatemalan newspaper columnist has faced intimidation and harassment after writing a piece that raised questions about the disappearance of a person in the western city of Panajachel. The journalist, Lucía Escobar, said she fled the city on Friday after growing fearful.

November 1, 2011 4:51 PM ET

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