JANUARY 11, 2005
Posted: February 2, 2005

Giovanna Rodríguez Castro, Bolivisión
David Zagardia Muños, Bolivisión


Rodríguez and Zagardia, members of a news team from TV channel Bolivisión, were harassed and threatened while covering developments during the first day of 48-hour antigovernment protests in the southeastern city of Santa Cruz.

Rodríguez, a reporter, and Zagardia, a cameraman, were driving in the outskirts of Santa Cruz when a group of protesters who were blocking an avenue stopped their vehicle. The protesters, told the journalists to turn back, hurled insults at them, and threatened to puncture their vehicle’s tires, Rodríguez told CPJ. The group also asked them to present a permit issued by the protest’s organizers.

After the journalists parked their vehicle nearby and returned to show their permit, the protesters again insulted them and pushed them. Rodríguez, who is four months pregnant, said one man threatened to beat her. After she showed a permit, protesters backed off and said they were joking. As the journalists returned to Bolivisión’s facilities, they noticed that two tires were flat. Rodríguez said their vehicle was clearly identified with the Bolivisión logo.

The strikers were led by business and civic groups in Santa Cruz and demanded that the government reverse an increase in fuel prices it adopted in late December 2004. In addition, they were pressing for greater autonomy for Santa Cruz Department, the nation’s richest.