Paraguayan journalist threatened after corruption, drug trafficking reports

New York, May 3, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about the safety of Paraguayan journalist Oscar Bogado Silva, who has received repeated death threats after reporting on local corruption and drug trafficking.

Bogado, correspondent for the Asunción-based daily Última Hora, told CPJ that unidentified individuals broke into his home in the southern city of Encarnación on April 24. No one was in the house at the time and the assailants did not take anything, but they left every door in the house open, Bogado said. A day later, the journalist received a call at his home phone from an unidentified individual, who warned Bogado that he was being watched.

The reporter told CPJ that he has received continuous telephone threats since March 2006, when he first published an article on local corruption and marijuana production along Paraguay’s southern border. Bogado said that he has published several related articles since then, after which he has received telephone threats at home, work, and on his cell from different, unidentified individuals. The callers have threatened Bogado’s family, warning him that if “you want to see your son grow up, you will not deal with this issue anymore.” Another caller said that “whenever we want to, we can kill you,” Bogado told CPJ.

Bogado said that he has been followed recently as well. On April 18, a car followed him for more than 60 miles (100 kilometers) from his house to his wife’s office and back. Unidentified callers have since mentioned details about his routine.

The journalist informed Última Hora’s directors in Asunción about the threats, he told CPJ. Bogado also said that he informally reported the incidents to local authorities, but has not filed an official complaint because he fears retaliation.

“We are alarmed by the threats against Oscar Bogado,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “We call on Paraguayan authorities to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation, to apprehend those behind the threats, and to provide Bogado with the necessary protection that will allow him to continue to work.”

CPJ research found that in 2006 two journalists who reported on drug trafficking in border towns were victims of violent reprisals. In February, Augusto Roa, correspondent for the Asunción-based ABC Color in Encarnación, appeared to be targeted by two unidentified gunmen after writing investigative pieces about marijuana production and trafficking in southern Paraguay. In July, Luis Alcides Ruiz Díaz, reporter for the weekly Hechos in Pedro Juan Caballero, was threatened with death after publishing the names of alleged traffickers in the border city. Border radio journalist Enrique Galeano also went missing in February of last year after allegedly reporting on corruption and drug trafficking.