Ramírez, a reporter for Guatemala’s Noti 7 television station and Radio
Sonora, died from a heart attack after fleeing from attackers who were
beating him while he was covering protests in the capital, Guatemala
City, according to autopsy results.
On July 24, riots erupted across Guatemala City after the Supreme
Court’s July 20 decision granting two opposition parties an injunction
temporarily barring former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt from running for
president in the November 9 elections. A later ruling allowed Ríos
Montt to run in the poll, which he lost.
Supporters of Ríos Montt’s political party, the Guatemalan Republican
Front (FRG), attacked other journalists in different areas of the
capital, sources told CPJ. “It was crazy, the mob was completely out of
control,” Haroldo Sánchez, news director for Guatevisión television
station, told CPJ. According to CPJ sources, government authorities and
the National Police did little to control the protesters.
In August, Ramírez’s family filed a criminal complaint against
President Alfonso Portillo Cabrera, several government ministers, Ríos
Montt, and high-ranking FRG officials, accusing them of being
responsible for the journalist’s death.
In an October meeting with a CPJ delegation, Marco Antonio Cortez, the
Attorney General Office’s special prosecutor for crimes against
journalists and trade unionists, told CPJ that he had asked the Supreme
Court to initiate preliminary proceedings (antejuicios)
against President Portillo, Ríos Montt, and other high-ranking
government officials to determine if their immunity can be lifted so
they can be tried as private citizens. As of December, the proceedings
had not yet begun.