Merardo Alejandro Romero Chávez

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Armed men shot Romero, 49, in his home in front of his children, according
to press reports.
Romero was the host of a political talk show on the community radio station La
Voz de Ytakyry and was a member of the local Esperanza Colorada political

In the days after the murder, Romero’s widow, Gloria Torres, told
reporters that her husband had said that three members of a rival political
party would be responsible if anything happened to him: Miguel Angel Soria,
former mayor of Ytakyry; José Valenzuela, Soria’s chief political adviser; and
Hugo Barreto, the mayor. Soria, a powerful figure in local politics, told
reporters that neither he nor Valenzuela had anything to do with the murder and
that he hoped authorities would solve the crime. All three men denied
the accusations to authorities.

Romero had accused Soria of corruption, news reports said. At the time,
Soria was a candidate for a senior position in the Honor Colarado political
party, news reports said.

The journalist’s wife said Romero had received multiple death threats by
phone and text message, the most recent coming two weeks before the murder.
Authorities allegedly tracked the phone threats to Valenzuela and determined
that he had offered the gunmen US$2,000 to commit the murder, press reports said.

Authorities arrested three men in September and October 2011, and charged them
with planning and carrying out the murder, news reports said.
Investigators said they connected the suspects to Valenzuela and charged him
with being the mastermind. Valenzuela’s whereabouts were not immediately known,
however, and he was considered a fugitive. Investigators said they were
investigating Romero’s political activity and his journalism as possible