A hostile and dangerous atmosphere is being created to thwart journalism in Guatemala ahead of elections, the Guatemalan Journalists Association, or APG, has warned. Perpetrators hope to curb access to information and discredit journalists and columnists, the APG said in a Jan. 21 statement by its Press Freedom Committee. As examples, the APG mentioned the cases of Juan Luis Font, editor of the weekly magazine Contrapoder, Spanish journalist Pedro Trujillo, a columnist with the morning daily Prensa Libre, and José Rubén Zamora, president of the daily El Periódico. Reporting on the communiqué, Agence France Presse pointed out that Font and Trujillo have been criminally charged after criticizing Manuel Baldizón, a presidential hopeful in the September elections and a favorite in opinion polls. Baldizón seeks the presidential nomination of the center-right Libertad Democrática Renovada party, which he founded in 2010.
Zamora “was legally persecuted by President Otto Pérez Molina and Vice President Roxana Baldetti for reporting in the newspaper alleged acts of corruption and illicit wealth,” AFP reported.
In a separate incident, according to AFP, on Jan. 20, television news anchor Susana Morazán “was attacked by strangers who warned her to stop criticizing Pérez Molina’s government.”
The same day, journalists and other personnel of the community radio station Snuq’ Jolom Konob’, in Santa Eulalia, some 335 kilometers northwest of Guatemala City, “were attacked by a group of people, apparently sympathizers of Diego Pedro Mateo, the town’s mayor,” it added.