Protesters clash with riot police in Lima, Peru, on January 19, 2023. More than a dozen journalists were injured in the last week of protests. (Reuters/Pilar Olivares)

More than a dozen journalists harassed, attacked during week of anti-government protests in Peru

Bogotá, January 24, 2023 – More than a dozen journalists have been harassed, attacked, or injured amid protests in the Peruvian capital of Lima since January 19, according to media reports, journalists who spoke with CPJ, and Adriana León, spokesperson for the Lima-based Institute for Press and Society (IPYS), who communicated with CPJ via messaging app.

The Peruvian National Association of Journalists said January 10 that at least 72 journalists had been harassed and attacked while covering the demonstrations demanding the ouster of President Dina Boluarte and the return to power of former President Pedro Castillo.

“Peruvian authorities must investigate the assaults of dozens of journalists covering protests in Lima and throughout the country, and hold those responsible to account,” said Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director, in New York. “It is essential that authorities send a clear message that violence against the press is not tolerated, and that journalists’ essential role in covering the protests is fully respected.”

On January 19, demonstrators in Lima insulted, spit on, and punched reporter Lourdes Paucar and camera operator Willy Nieva, both with the independent TV station Canal N and its sister station América Televisión, and tried to steal their equipment, according to news reports and Paucar, who spoke with CPJ via messaging app. Paucar said they escaped the attack and were treated at a clinic for minor injuries.

Paucar told CPJ that protesters also attacked other members of their reporting team, throwing bottles, rocks, and bricks at driver Abdias Vidarte, technician Cristian Ydoña, and camera operator Jair Cabezas. She said protesters knocked out two of Vidarte’s teeth.

Ydoña was quoted in those reports saying that the protesters “caught me, hit me, and threw rocks. I had to hang onto our vehicle so they wouldn’t drag me away.”

Paucar told CPJ that many of the protesters accuse the media of supporting the ouster of former President Castillo, who was impeached and arrested in December.

“There is a lot of hatred aimed at the press. The protesters don’t trust us. They say we spread false news,” she said.

Also on January 19, protesters in Lima similarly surrounded, insulted, and spit on Jonathan Castro, a journalist for the social media-based outlet El Encerrona, and tried to steal his camera, he told CPJ via messaging app.

IPYS also reported that on January 20, protesters surrounded Omar Coca, a reporter for the Lima daily La Republica, and shoved him to the ground, and other protesters threw rocks at Andrea Amésquita, a journalist for the RPP radio outlet, striking her in the legs, and stole her microphone.

CPJ emailed the Lima police for comment but did not immediately receive any response.