Peru: Radio station owner threatened

New York, March 7, 2000 — CPJ is troubled by threats against Ricardo Palma Michelsen, owner of the Lima station Radio Miraflores.

Palma was first threatened after a January 8 broadcast in which journalist Oscar Díaz interviewed ex-president Alan García Pérez and Baruch Ivcher, former owner of the television station Frecuencia Latina-Canal 2. Ivcher was stripped of his Peruvian citizenship in 1997, which under Peruvian law meant that he was no longer allowed to own a media outlet. During the program, both guests criticized the regime of President Alberto K. Fujimori.

Díaz told CPJ that the threats then abated for a few weeks. On February 5, a mysterious electrical failure interrupted the transmission of that day’s “La Revista del Momento,” which was broadcast from the department of Arequipa. This program featured an interview with Luis Castañeda Lossio, an opposition candidate for the April 9 presidential elections. Fujimori recently announced that he is seeking re-election, despite constitutional objections.

On March 2, two unidentified individuals stopped Palma in the street and told him to fire Díaz for the good of his own family. This threat followed the broadcast of Díaz’s interview with an ex-member of the National Elections Jury (JNE), who provided convincing evidence to support claims that the government had rigged the congressional elections of 1992.

Since March 2, both Díaz and Palma have been receiving threatening telephone calls. The callers often hang up as soon as the phone is answered.

CPJ believes that this harassment represents a severe violation of Peruvian press freedom, further reducing the chances that the April 9 elections will be fair and free.