In Guatemala, local reporters attacked while covering mob attack

New York, April 26, 2007—Guatemalan television journalist Rudy Toledo was shot and wounded, and three other local reporters were attacked Wednesday while covering a mob’s fatal attack on a purported gang member in the northeastern province of Quiché.

A group of about 100 people shot and burned an individual believed to be a member of the local gang Mara 18 in the town of San Andrés Sajcabajá, 62 miles (100 kilometers) northeast of Guatemala City, The Associated Press reported. According to Guatemalan press reports, two other men are still being held by the crowd of local residents.

Arriving at the scene at 10:30 a.m. were Rudy Toledo, a reporter for the Quiché-based television station Televisión Cable Noticias; Oscar Toledo, correspondent for the national daily Nuestro Diario; Carlos Toledo, correspondent for the news program TeleDiario on the national television station Canal 3; and Oscar Figueroa, correspondent for the national radio station Emisoras Unidas. Figueroa told the Committee to Protect Journalists that the four journalists were wearing vests featuring the names of their media outlets as well as visible press credentials. Rudy and Oscar Toledo are brothers; Carlos Toledo is their nephew.

According to Figueroa, some people in the crowd initially agreed to be interviewed while others refused and threatened the journalists. Several heavily armed men punched and kicked the journalists, grabbed their equipment, and fired shots, injuring Rudy Toledo in the left leg. Two local police agents intervened, pulling the journalists out of the mob. After the journalists had left, protesters shot at their car, which was identified as a press vehicle, Figueroa said.

The police evacuated the journalists and took them to a local hospital, where Rudy Toledo received medical attention, Figueroa told CPJ. The journalist was later airlifted to a hospital in Guatemala City, according to the local press freedom group Centro de Reportes Informativos sobre Guatemala (CERIGUA). Figueroa said that Rudy Toledo is in stable condition.