New York, December 1, 2022 – In response to independent daily Guatemalan newspaper elPeriódico’s recent announcement that it would end print publication as of Thursday, December 1, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement expressing alarm:
“The painful decision by elPeriódico to halt print publication, leaving the future of the outlet’s reporting and its staff in limbo, is an alarming sign of just how sharply conditions for the press have declined in Guatemala,” said CPJ’s Latin America and the Caribbean program coordinator, Natalie Southwick. “Guatemalan officials, beginning with President Alejandro Giammattei, must drop the criminal charges against elPeriódico’s staff, put an immediate end to their efforts to stifle investigative journalism, and ensure that independent outlets, including elPeriodico, can continue reporting safely and freely.”
In its statement, the outlet said that it was “forced to abandon our print format” after “120 days of political and economic pressure,” and would continue publishing online.
ElPeriódico’s co-founder and president, José Rúben Zamora, has been in pretrial detention since he was arrested at his home on July 29, as CPJ reported at the time. He faces charges of money laundering, blackmail, and influence peddling and is scheduled to appear in court on December 8. On August 19, Guatemalan police arrested the outlet’s financial manager, Flora Silva, after a raid on her home. Silva also remains in pretrial detention.
Zamora, his family, and colleagues have claimed that the case is retaliation for elPeriódico’s reporting on alleged corruption involving Giammattei and Attorney General Consuelo Porras.