An attacker set fire to Juan Berríos Jiménez's car, pictured, in the early hours of January 6. (Juan Berríos Jiménez)
An attacker set fire to Juan Berríos Jiménez’s car, pictured, in the early hours of January 6. (Juan Berríos Jiménez)

Attackers set fire to car of Peruvian radio journalist

Unidentified attackers set fire to a car belonging to radio journalist Juan Berríos Jiménez in Iberia, a town in the Madre de Dios region along Peru’s border with Brazil and Bolivia, according to news reports.

Berríos told CPJ that a family member woke him around 2 a.m. on January 6, 2018 and told him his car was on fire. When the family went outside to investigate, they saw a figure whom Berríos said he believes was a member of Iberia’s Municipal Security Force, an auxiliary force that works with local police, who was watching them from about 60 yards away and holding a cell phone that he appeared to be using to document the fire. The digital news outlet InfoRegión posted on YouTube a video showing extensive damage to Berríos’s black Kia, which was parked outside his home office.

Berríos runs the Radio Tahuamanu radio station and RTV Tahuamanu, a local TV channel, out of a studio in his home. He hosts a program, “El Poder de la Palabra,” that covers news from Tahuamanu, one of the three provinces in the Madre de Dios region, according to news reports.

Berríos, who has been a journalist for 15 years, has reported on allegations of corruption and misuse use of funds.

In a public statement to reporters and in his police report, Berríos said that he believed the mayor of Iberia, Julián Toledo Huamán, was responsible for the incident, and accused Toledo of trying to intimidate him. Berríos told CPJ that people affiliated with the mayor’s office had threatened him and his family, and warned him to stop investigating alleged corruption in the local government.

Berríos told CPJ that he filed a police report and was waiting for officials to open an investigation.

The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to CPJ’s calls and emailed requests for comment. CPJ attempted to call the local attorney-general’s office for comment, but the listed numbers did not work.