Sonia Isabel Alvarado Huayunga

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On December 9, 2019, police found the body of Sonia Isabel Alvarado Huayunga, a 28-year-old radio journalist, buried in a ditch in the Carabanchel locality of northeastern Peru, according to local media. Her body appeared to have been beaten and strangled, the reports said. Relatives of Alvarado had reported her missing on December 7, according to the reports.

Alvarado hosted the news program “Informative Radar” (Radar Informativo) on the local radio station Radio Láser every week day, covering news stories on corruption, politics and social issues, a station employee, who requested anonymity for safety reasons, told CPJ. 

The employee said that Alvarado was active in uncovering corruption and illegal activities in the region, and that she had mentioned several times to her colleagues that she was receiving threats. The employee declined to provide detail as to who was believed to be behind the threats.

A December 10 report by the Peruvian daily La República cited unnamed sources as saying that Alvarado had been investigating an illegal network of wood traffickers in which her partner would have been involved.  

The Radio Láser employee with whom CPJ spoke said he was not aware of an investigation into wood trafficking.

According to local media, the local prosecutor’s office of the Datem del Marañón province is investigating the killing as a potential femicide: fatal violence against a woman because of her gender, often carried out by a male partner or relative. 

Police in San Lorenzo detained Alvarado’s partner, Felipe Cáceres, and one of her acquaintances, named Ricardo Castillo, in connection to her killing, according to local media. Cáceres denied any involvement in the murder, in a statement made from the police station and captured on a video posted on December 11, 2019 by America TV. 

According to La República, neighbors reported seeing Alvarado with Cáceres on December 7. 

The same day, Cáceres had filed a complaint against Alvarado, claiming she had abandoned their home, according to La República. Alvarado’s father told the Peruvian daily La República that Alvarado and Cáceres had separated.

Also on December 11, the National Association of Journalists of Peru issued a statement on Facebook demanding that authorities investigate whether the killing was linked to Alvarado’s journalism. 

On December 11, Alvarado’s employer, Radio Láser, posted a message on Facebook expressing its condolences to the journalist’s family. The statement said that her “vocation as a journalist was to banish corruption in the province.”

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