El Periódico executive attacked and threatened with gun

An executive from the Guatemalan daily el Periódico was attacked by a man who tried to grab her in a car park before pointing a gun in her face on 17 January. The attacker escaped and was driven away by two people waiting in a recent model BMW. The victim suffered minor physical injuries.

It seems unlikely that robbery was the motive as the attacker did not attempt to steal the victim’s car, phone or bag. El Periódico management believe she was attacked because of her duties at the newspaper.

Before the attack, the newspaper reported extensively on the distribution of educational materials in a color similar to that of the ruling party and the fact that there was no tender for the production of those materials. Shortly after the attack, el Periódico published an investigative piece about President Molina’s new estate in Montericco. Newspaper management are concerned that those responsible may have had prior knowledge of the story; in September 2014, an el Periódico article appeared on Vice President’s Baldetti’s website before the newspaper had published the report.

The attack adds to the climate of fear among independent media in Guatemala in general and at el Periódico in particular.

The daily continues to suffer from a state advertising boycott and has faced threats of legal action by the President and Vice-President. Its executives have recently been subjected to more than 50 individual defamation claims, including criminal defamation claims submitted by high-ranking state officers, as well as being subjected to overt and covert surveillance.

Read el Periódico’s report on the attack in Spanish here.

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