Bogotá, Colombia, May 28, 2013–An attack on a community radio station in central Bolivia constitutes a politically motivated attempt to censor its news coverage, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today as it called on authorities to investigate and apprehend the attackers.
“The attackers are denying their fellow citizens a source of news and information. They don’t have that right,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas, from New York. “Authorities need to apprehend the perpetrators of this attack, protect all news outlets from such assaults, and stand up for the right of citizens to receive the information of their choosing.”
Protesters broke into the office of La Voz de La Mayoría in the central town of Caranavi on May 21, destroyed most of the equipment, and threatened Franz Loza, a reporter who was at the station at the time, according to news reports. Franz Chavez of the La Paz-based National Press Association told CPJ that La Voz de la Mayoría remains off the air and its studio equipment, such as sound consoles and speakers, had been ruined. Chavez said that Loza was now in hiding.
The station is a local affiliate of the government-run Radio Patria Nueva network in La Paz, which is seen as supportive of Caranavi Mayor Teodocio Quilca, who is a member of the ruling Movement Toward Socialism party.
The attack occurred during clashes between supporters and opponents of Quilca. Divisions have emerged within the ruling party, with Quilca’s opponents calling for the resignation of the mayor, who has been charged with misuse of state funds, and his supporters saying the accusations are in retaliation for initiating a corruption investigation against a former official, according to news reports.
CPJ’s calls to the mayor’s office were not immediately answered.
Protesters also stole the camera of Juan Carlos Mazarro, a journalist for Radio Television Caranavi, and prevented other radio stations from reporting on the violence by threatening their reporters and insisting that they broadcast only music, news reports said.
- For more data and analysis on Bolivia, visit CPJ’s Bolivia page here.