New York, October 27, 2004—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is outraged by the recent abduction of four Guatemalan journalists. On Sunday, October 26, former paramilitary fighters kidnapped reporters Freddy López and Alberto Ramírez, and photographers Emerson Díaz and Mario Linares, all of the Guatemala Citybased daily Prensa Libre, in the town of La Libertad, in the northwestern department of Huehuetenango.
According to CPJ sources, the former paramilitary forces—whom the Guatemalan military organized to fight for the government during the country’s 36-year-old civil war, which ended in 1996—are demanding that the government pay them for their services.
On Sunday, at around 11 a.m., López and Díaz went to Huehuetenango to cover a campaign rally by former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, who is running for president for the ruling Guatemalan Republican Front. On the way to the rally, the reporters were abducted at a checkpoint illegally guarded by former paramilitary members protesting the government’s failure to pay them.