New York, August 24, 2006—Guatemalan radio host Vinicio Aguilar Mancilla was seriously injured Wednesday when unidentified assailants shot him in the face as he was jogging in Guatemala City, according to news reports and CPJ interviews. Aguilar was recovering today after undergoing surgery.
Two men approached Aguilar, host of a daily political show on Radio 10, near his home at around 7 a.m., according to press reports.
Station Director Oscar Rodolfo Castañeda said he spoke with Aguilar who told him that one assailant said “that is the guy from the radio” as the other shot him at close range. Aguilar was struck in the hand and mouth by one shot and was taken to a local hospital. The assailants, who fled in a motorcycle, did not attempt to rob Aguilar, according to press reports. At the hospital, Aguilar told reporters that he did not know what prompted the attack.
Castañeda told CPJ that he knew of no threats against Aguilar, but the station had been threatened repeatedly for its reporting on a lawsuit involving Avícola Villalobos, one of Central America’s largest agricultural conglomerates. The latest threat came on Tuesday morning, when an on-air caller warned Castañeda to stop reporting on allegations of tax evasion connected to the case. The caller went on to say Castañeda would be killed if he did not leave the country within eight days.
Castañeda also said an economic boycott was organized against Radio 10 stemming from its coverage of the lawsuit in which a founding partner accused executives of tax fraud and money laundering. The case has received little coverage in other media.
“We are alarmed by the violent attack against our colleague Vinicio Aguilar Mancilla,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “We urge local authorities to investigate the assault thoroughly and bring all those responsible to justice.”