Peru: Radio host escapes assassination attempt; government role suspected

May 26, 2000

His Excellency Alberto K. Fujimori
President of the Republic of Peru
Lima, Peru

VIA FACSIMILE: 011-51-1-427-6722 / 426-6535

Your Excellency,

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is writing to express its concern for the safety of Hernán Carrión de la Cruz, journalist with Radio Ancash in the northern Peruvian port of Chimbote. On April 3, Carrión narrowly escaped being shot by an unidentified gunman. He continues to receive threatening phone calls, and his weekday news show was recently suspended as a result of what CPJ believes is a concerted effort to silence his critical coverage of your government.

Carrión directs the program “Ancash en la Noticia” (“Ancash in the News”), broadcast Monday to Friday between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m. and from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. On April 3 at around 6:30 p.m., unidentified individuals attempted to shoot Carrión while he was driving his car in downtown Chimbote, the journalist told CPJ. Carrión noticed that a cherry-colored van was following him. When Carrión stopped at a red light on José Pardo Avenue, a passenger rolled down the left rear window and pointed a gun at him. As Carrión instinctively stepped on the gas pedal and ran the red light, he heard a shot.

On April 7, Carrión met with Manuel Torres Vásquez, a federal government official assigned to Santa Province, to request protection for himself and his family. When Torres asked who he thought the attackers were, Carrión, who has repeatedly criticized the government on his radio show, replied that he suspected government agents. Torres promised to take the matter up with local police.

On April 18, one day before Your Excellency visited Chimbote as part of your presidential election campaign, Radio Ancash’s mobile units conducted an opinion poll in the city. According to Carrión, the poll results suggested widespread discontent with the government, because of high unemployment and political repression.

Carrión believes that this coverage prompted the National Division of Tax Administration (SUNAT) to notify Radio Ancash’s owner, Dante Moreno, that the station had to submit its tax records within three days or else be fined 150,000 soles (US$45,000), even though the radio station had already filed its tax returns. Moreno subsequently told Carrión to “take some rest” for a week, because he did not want to risk a fine. On May 25, Moreno suspended “Ancash en la Noticia” until further notice, claiming that he was concerned for Carrión’s safety.

Peru is a dangerous country in which to practice journalism, as last week’s brutal torture of journalist Fabián Salazar Olivera demonstrates. Today, CPJ fears that another professional journalist’s life may be in imminent danger. We call on Your Excellency to guarantee the safety of Carrión and his family, and to ensure that authorities conduct a thorough investigation into the attack.


Ann K. Cooper
Executive Director