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Serious Threat to Journalism in Guatemala

Those of us who consider freedom of the press to be an essential pillar of democracy must raise a voice of condemnation in the face of this type of situation.

Photo: EFE – Esteban Biba

The recent arrest of journalist José Rubén Zamora by order of the Prosecutor’s Office in Guatemala is a new attack against freedom of information. Zamora, president of the newspaper, the most representative media outlet in the country thanks to the relentless fight against corruption, had been denouncing cases involving people at the highest level. The attorney general, Consuelo Porras, has used judicial force to try to silence independent journalism. We stand in solidarity with Zamora and with all those who have expressed that “the truth is not silenced by silencing journalists!”

The imputation of the Prosecutor’s Office, as has happened in Nicaragua or Venezuela, to cite just two cases, lacks any support. There is talk of an alleged laundering of money or other assets, blackmail and influence peddling, and that Zamora is being arrested not as a journalist, but as a businessman. the newspaper He has maintained a critical position against President Alejandro Giammattei and Mrs. Porras has already been sanctioned by the United States. It is very difficult to separate the complaints sustained in such a prestigious environment and the discomfort that this causes in the upper echelons of power. There are about 15 officials of the Prosecutor’s Office who have had to flee the country before the onslaught of the prosecutor to hide obvious cases of corruption.

The independent journalists and the union that brings them together have been emphatic in pointing out Giammattei and Porras as those responsible for this intimidation against those who insist on maintaining their conduct of investigative journalism that, with arguments and evidence, points its accusing finger at those who take advantage of the treasury In addition to Porras, the prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche, in charge of advancing the case, is also part of the so-called Engel list issued by the United States Government, which includes “corrupt and anti-democratic” people.

Those of us who practice journalism and consider freedom of information as an essential pillar of democracy must raise a voice of condemnation in the face of this type of situation. Illegitimately using the force of the State and its control or repressive agencies to frighten, prosecute and imprison independent journalists cannot have a place in any society that considers itself respectful of the rule of law. For this reason we join the call made by the special rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Pedro Vaca, to the authorities to “ensure compliance with judicial rights and guarantees”, before the arrest and search of the newspaper.

It should not be forgotten that the Government’s performance in the area of ​​human rights has been seriously questioned in recent months. Last June, the IACHR added Guatemala to the list of countries where serious human rights violations are observed, along with Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. President Giammattei rejected these questions in a visit he made to the OAS. This type of attitude reinforces what the IACHR mentioned when it stated that in the Central American country there was a “progressive weakening of democratic institutions”, “systematic interference against the independence” of the judicial system, “irregularities in the process of electing magistrates” and “criminalization and stigmatization” of judges.

José Rubén Zamora founded the newspaper in the mid-1990s and in his corruption investigations, he has not only questioned various administrations and the private sector, he has also denounced abuses of power, thanks to which he has obtained important international recognition, including the María Moors Cabot Award from the Columbia University. He must be released immediately.

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Source: Elespectador

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