A police vehicle is seen in Guatemala City on July 21, 2023. Journalists Edin Alonso and Hugo Gutiérrez were recently shot and killed in Retalhuleu. (Reuters/Cristina Chiquin)

Guatemalan journalists Edin Alonso and Hugo Gutiérrez shot and killed

Guatemala City, August 15, 2023 — Guatemalan authorities must thoroughly investigate the killings of journalists Edin Alonso and Hugo Gutiérrez, determine if they were targeted for their work, and bring those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.

On August 11, unidentified attackers shot and killed both journalists while they were riding a motorcycle in the town of Caballo Blanco, in the southwestern department of Retalhuleu, according to multiple news reports.

The journalists managed the “Noticias Caballo Blanco” Facebook page, which has about 34,000 followers. They were attacked while returning home after covering the killing of a local woman, according to those reports.

“Guatemalan authorities should thoroughly investigate the killings of journalists Edin Alonso and Hugo Gutiérrez, and determine if they were targeted in relation to their work,” said Cristina Zahar, CPJ’s Latin America and the Caribbean program coordinator, in São Paulo. “The Guatemalan government must end impunity for crimes against journalists by conducting a swift and credible investigation into this horrific attack, identifying all those responsible, and bringing them to justice.”

A journalist from Retalhuleu, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity due to safety concerns, said that Alonso and Gutiérrez had mentioned to their colleagues that they had received threats, but had not filed any formal complaints.

That person told CPJ that they believed the journalists may have been targeted for their work, but added that they worked and lived in an area with high crime. Guatemala has one of Latin America’s highest murder rates, according to the United Nations.

Noticias Caballo Blanco covers topics including local news, crime, politics, and social issues.

CPJ contacted the special division for crimes against journalists at the Guatemalan prosecutor’s office via messaging app for comment, but did not immediately receive any reply.

At least six journalists have been killed in Guatemala in direct connection to their work since 1992, according to CPJ research. Journalists have also reported being the targets of intimidation attempts both by organized crime and government officials, and investigative journalist José Rubén Zamora is presently serving a six-year prison term for his work, as CPJ has documented.