New York, April 24, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns an attack by 700 protesters on a radio station in southern Peru. The crowd stormed the offices of Radio Sudamericana in the city of Juliaca on Friday, angered by what they called the station’s one-sided coverage of a scandal surrounding a local mayor. A small group assaulted reporter Feliciano Sonco Puma who was covering the attack for another radio station.
Radio Sudamericana manager Roger Mamaní Zelda told CPJ the protesters smashed windows, stole equipment, and jostled three reporters working on a sports program.
Sonco, a reporter for Juliaca-based Radio Líder, told CPJ a number of protesters turned on him, pushed him to the ground and kicked him. He was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
The attacks followed protests by more than 1000 demonstrators early Friday in Arapa,near the city of Puno. The marchers were protesting the coverage by three radio stations of a corruption scandal involving Arapa mayor, Jorge Roselló Calapuja, according to José Cheque, a contributor to the local press freedom watchdog Instituto Prensa y Sociedad. The demonstrators, who called for the mayor to resign, complained that Puno-based Radio Azúl, and Juliaca-based Radio Los Andes and Radio Sudamericana, had ignored the views of ordinary people.
Sonco said the Puno State Attorney had begun an investigation into the attacks.
“We are worried by the continuous violence against journalists in the Peruvian provinces,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “We call on authorities to provide better protection for journalists and to bring to justice those responsible for the attacks on our colleague Feliciano Sonco Puma and Radio Sudamericana.”