Provincial editor threatened

New York, April 10, 2002—The editor of a fortnightly publication that criticized alleged corruption at a university in the southern city of Arequipa has received death threats, CPJ has learned.

Mabel Cáceres Calderón, editor of El Búho, works in the afternoon at the engineering sciences library of the Universidad Nacional de San Agustín (UNSA). On March 26, Cáceres arrived at the library and was given a package that had arrived for her in the mail.

Noticing that the package lacked a return address, she called her family, who in turn called the police.

Police bomb disposal experts opened the box and found a bull’s reproductive apparatus with a note that read, “Bitch, your time has come,” according to a report by the Lima-based press freedom organization Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS).

That same afternoon Cáceres filed an official complaint with the Arequipa police department, which has opened an investigation into the case.

In a series of articles published last November and December, El Búho claimed that certain university employees had received payments for unspecified services and complained that it was impossible to know the salary of UNSA’s rector, Rolando Cornejo Cuervo.

In late November, 2001, the university television station, TV UNSA, broadcast a two-hour program in which Cáceres was referred to as a “rat” that needed to be “exterminated,” the journalist told CPJ.

Around the same time, a flyer containing insulting references to the journalist’s private life began circulating throughout the university.

Cáceres was first threatened on January 29, when she received an envelope with an anonymous note that read, “We know it’s you.” Enclosed in the envelope were clippings of a January 27 article by the national daily OJO, which announced that, at the request of an Arequipa congressman, the General Comptroller’s Office would investigate allegations of corruption at UNSA.

In December 2001, the rector of UNSA filed a criminal defamation lawsuit against Cáceres. After the lawsuit was dismissed in mid-February, 2002, Cornejo filed an appeal, which is currently under consideration.

Cáceres told CPJ that she has been forced to suspend publication of El Búho in order to fight the rector’s lawsuit. She hopes to re-launch El Búho in May.