Two journalists shot dead in Guatemala, another wounded

Bogotá, Colombia, March 11, 2015–Two gunmen shot dead two journalists and injured a third in Guatemala on Tuesday, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Guatemalan authorities to carry out a thorough investigation into the attack and ensure the perpetrators are held to account.

The assailants killed Danilo López, a reporter for the Guatemala City newspaper Prensa Libre, and Federico Salazar, a reporter for the Guatemala City station Radio Nuevo Mundo, while the journalists were walking in a park in Mazatenango, the capital of southwest Suchitepéquez department, according to press reports. The gunmen fled on a motorcycle.

A third journalist, Marvin Túnchez, a reporter for the local Canal 30 cable TV station, was also injured in the shooting, but was recovering from his wounds in a local hospital, his sister, Blanca Túnchez, told CPJ.

“Authorities must thoroughly investigate this attack and bring those responsible to justice,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas, from New York. “Guatemala has a troubling pattern of impunity in attacks against journalists. If authorities allow these crimes to remain unsolved, all local journalists will face even more danger.”

López had worked as a correspondent in Suchitepéquez for Prensa Libre for more than a decade and often wrote about corruption and the misuse of public funds, according to the paper. He had also compared corrupt politicians to mafia dons on his Twitter account, Prensa Libre reported.

Miguel Angel Méndez Zetina, editor of Prensa Libre, said that the journalist “received constant threats by municipal authorities for his stories about government corruption,” according to the paper.

In 2013, López had been publicly threatened by a public official after the journalist published a story about public works projects in the town, according to the Guatemalan press freedom group CERIGUA.

Marvin Robledo, director of Radio Nuevo Mundo, told The Associated Press that Salazar had not reported receiving any threats and was not working on any sensitive stories when he was killed.

Jorge Ortega, a spokesman for Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina, told reporters that the government was working to apprehend all those responsible for the attack. Authorities arrested an individual suspected of being one of the attackers, news accounts reported today.

Journalists at Prensa Libre marked the murder on Wednesday afternoon by observing a moment of silence in the newsroom, according to the newspaper. López is survived by his wife, who is pregnant, and five-year-old daughter.

A special report published by CPJ in September found that amid pervasive violence and instability caused by organized crime and corruption, Guatemala experienced an alarming rise in unsolved, anti-press violence.

  • For more data and analysis on Guatemala, visit CPJ’s Guatemala page here.