Three journalists receive death threats in Bolivia

On the evening of April 12, 2009, Raphael Ramírez, editor of the national daily La Prensa, received two anonymous calls at his home in La Paz from an individual who threatened to kill him if he “did not stop publishing lies,” Carlos Morales, the daily’s director, told CPJ. The following morning, an unidentified individual called Morales’ home three times and warned his wife that the journalist would be killed if he did not change the paper’s editorial line, Morales said. The caller specified that he was unhappy with La Prensa‘s coverage of a corruption scandal involving high-ranking individuals in Bolivian President Evo Morales’ administration. (The journalist is not related to the president.)

Morales told CPJ that he and Ramírez had received threats in December 2008 after the publication of an article implicating the president and at least one of his ministers in the transportation of contraband on December 9, 2008. Over the course of two weeks, repeated calls were made to La Prensa‘s newsroom stating that they knew where Morales and Ramírez lived. The callers warned the journalists that they should stop investigating the corruption case. According to Morales, his colleague received several similar calls at home.

Morales said that although he and Ramírez never made an official complaint, the paper was granted police protection for two months. The director told CPJ that the paper’s administration informed local authorities about the threats.

On April 13, Andrés Rojas, news director for the El Alto-based television channel Canal de Televisión Virgen de Copacabana, told local reporters that he had left his position as a result of several death threats against him and his family that week. According to local and international news reports, Rojas said he believes the threats are linked to the station’s critical reporting on local social organizations.