Radio reporter arrested after covering protest

Juan Carlos Paco Veramendi, a reporter for the Potosí-based Radio Líder, was arrested on July 24, 2015, and held for five days, according to local journalists and press reports.

Paco was covering a protest by hundreds of miners in La Paz on July 22, 2015, news reports said. The miners, who were from Potosí, were striking against the Bolivian government over infrastructure investment, the reports said. Protesters threw rocks and small dynamite charges and officers used tear gas to disperse the crowd, according to news reports.

At least 44 individuals were arrested, including Paco. On July 24, 2015, in a court in La Paz, Judge Lía Cardozo accused Paco and three protesters of disrupting public order and possessing explosives, and ordered them to be detained, according to press reports. No charges were filed against them.

The Bolivian publishers’ group the National Association of the Press (ANP) said the arrest was politically motived and called for Paco’s immediate release from prison. Radio Líder publicly said that Paco was covering the protest on assignment for the station.

On July 27, 2015, Judge Cardozo ordered the release of Paco and the other protesters, saying there were no grounds for the allegations against them but that Paco had acted without “impartiality” and “overstepped the ethical limits of this profession,” news reports said. Paco was released on July 29, 2015.