Journalist murdered outside TV station’s facilities

New York, February 11, 2004—Nicaraguan journalist Carlos José Guadamuz was shot dead yesterday in Nicaragua’s capital, Managua, as he was arriving to work. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) continues to investigate whether his murder is related to his journalistic work.

According to local news reports, the journalist’s murder took place at around 1 p.m. in the parking lot of TV station Canal 23, where the journalist hosted the afternoon program “Dardos al centro” (Darts to the Bull’s-eye). As Guadamuz got out of his pick-up truck with one of his sons, a gunman, who apparently had been waiting for him, fired several shots at the journalist at point-blank range. The gunman then fled but stumbled and was captured by Guadamuz’s son and Canal 23 employees and was subdued. Guadamuz was taken to a Managua hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. The murderer has been identified as William Hurtado García, who worked as a local merchant and as a security guard.

Guadamuz, a former high-ranking member of the opposition Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) party, was imprisoned in the late 1960s for opposing Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza. During his imprisonment, Guadamuz shared a prison cell with friend and FSLN leader Daniel Ortega, with whom he had a highly publicized falling-out in the late ‘90s.

A controversial journalist and a former FSLN candidate for mayor of Managua, Guadamuz used to be manager and part owner of popular pro-FSLN radio station Radio Ya, from which he was removed in 1999 because of a lawsuit believed by many to be instigated by Ortega. In 2003, he had registered himself as a candidate for the post of Managua’s mayor for the ruling Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC).

Since 1996, Guadamuz had been a fierce critic of Ortega—currently the opposition leader—and other FSLN high-ranking officials, whom he often labeled as corrupt. During the latest editions of “Dardos al centro,” he had accused Ortega of receiving bribes and using judges close to the FSLN for personal deals, according to the Managua daily La Prensa.

In statements made to the local press, Guadamuz’s oldest son blamed Ortega for his father’s murder and declared that his father had often received threats. According to The Associated Press, police are investigating whether Ortega was involved.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office, which has named a prosecutor to look into the case, has not commented on the possible motives for his murder.

“We urge the Nicaraguan government to conduct an in-depth investigation into the murder of Carlos José Guadamuz and to ensure that those responsible are punished,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper.