27 April 2011

Journalist found dead in Bolivia; cameraman gunned down in El Salvador

Two journalists were killed in two relatively safe countries in Latin America this past week. A journalist who went missing on 19 April in Bolivia was found dead two days later, reports IFEX interim member Asociación Nacional de la Prensa (ANP) and other IFEX members, while a cameraman in El Salvador was gunned down near the capital on Monday, report the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

The body of journalist David Niño de Guzmán, news director for Agencia de Noticias Fides (ANF), was found on a street in the outskirts of La Paz on 21 April, the apparent victim of an explosive device, report IAPA, CPJ and RSF.

Niño de Guzmán was last seen leaving work on 19 April. Police said none of Niño de Guzmán's belongings were stolen, and did not rule out a journalism-related motive.

During his 16 years as a journalist, Niño de Guzmán, 42, worked for several top news dailies, including "La Razón" and "El Diario", and for Cadena A television. He joined Agencia de Noticias Fides, a Jesuit-affiliated agency, as a reporter in 2006 and became news director in March 2010.

Meanwhile, in El Salvador, Alfredo Hurtado, a cameraman for the privately-owned TV station Canal 33, was gunned down near the capital San Salvador on 26 April as he was riding on a public bus, say the members.

While the motive is not yet known, Canal 33 said in a press release that "there are firm beliefs that his murder could have been linked to his work as a cameraman for the 'Teleprensa' newscast during the nighttime, mostly covering the police beat," IAPA reports.

The station added that "awareness of a certain criminal act" was one of the main theories currently being pursued in the investigations. According to RSF, local gangs had committed a number of crimes in the neighbourhood where Hurtado lived. Members of Hurtado's family said that he and his wife had been receiving threats.

CPJ says that journalists covering El Salvador's widespread gang violence risk becoming targets themselves. For instance, in 2009, Christian Poveda, a French-Spanish filmmaker who had documented gang violence in El Salvador for decades, was slain by members of the Mara 18 gang. Last month, 11 defendants in the murder case, including the two masterminds, were sentenced by a special tribunal for organised crime.

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