Journalist harassed after reporting on local government corruption

APRIL 1, 2008
Posted May 5, 2008

Paúl Garay Ramírez, Del Pueblo

Two unidentified men attempted to kidnap Garay, director of the local weekly El Pueblo, on April 1 in Pucallpa in the eastern province of Ucayali, the journalist told CPJ. Since then, unknown individuals have visited his home, as well as his mother and a friend asking about the journalist’s whereabouts. The reporter believes these intimidating acts are retaliation for a report he published on local government corruption.

Garay told CPJ that on April 1, he published an investigative report in El Pueblo linking the former regional president of Ucayali, Edwin Vásquez López, to the illegal purchase of land and to several death threats received by a local man. Garay said he reported on the story again that day during the daily news program Hora 12, which he hosted on local radio station Estéreo 92.

On the afternoon of April 1, as Garay was leaving the radio station, two unidentified men approached and grabbed him, the journalist told CPJ. As the assailants attempted to pull Garay into a nearby car with tinted windows, the radio station’s owner, Andre Junga, ran out of the station’s offices shouting, he said. According to Garay, the two men let him go and sped away in the car. The journalist told CPJ his radio show was cancelled the following day.

Garay said he published an account of the attempted kidnapping in El Pueblo on April 15. That day, an unidentified man visited his mother’s house and another went to his own house in Pucallpa and asked to see him, the journalist told CPJ. Fearing for his life, Garay said he moved into a friend’s home where there was permanent security. However, early in the morning of April 26, unidentified individuals went to both his home and his friend’s home and asked to see him. They left after a neighbor and a security guard turned them away, according to the journalist.

Garay told CPJ that he complained to local authorities and asked for police protection, which he has not yet received.