Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today about the fate of journalist Miguel Carpio Tananta of Radio Marginal and the municipal TV station Frecuencia 5 in the northwestern city of Tocache who had to flee the city after receiving death threats on 5 April. Local coca leaf growers accused him of being a government agent after the prime minister screened one of his TV reports at a press conference.
"We firmly condemn the threats that forced Miguel Carpio to stop working and we call for a thorough investigation and the punishment of those responsible," the press freedom organization said.
Reporters Without Borders added: "Bearing in mind the extreme tension in this region of drug trafficking, we appeal to the leaders of the coca growers to maintain calm within their movement and we urge them to distinguish between a journalist’s work and the use others make of it."
Carpio fled after a phone call warning him that he would be "the next to be murdered" and that the order for his execution came from the National Grouping of Coca Leaf Growers. He told the Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS), a Peruvian press freedom organization, that he feared reprisals against his wife and three children.
The producer and presenter of the programme "El Informe" on Frecuencia 5, Carpio covered a public meeting of coca growers on 14 November at which they elected their local leaders. Four days later, the station broadcast the entire report.
At a news conference on 27 February, Prime Minister Carlos Ferrero Costa screened a section of the report in which the deputy leader of the coca growers, Nancy Obregón, acknowledged that much of their coca crop ended up being used for cocaine production and trafficking. Ferrero told the press that he had received the video footage from the intelligence services.
Outraged at being branded as drug traffickers, the coca growers accused Carpio of defaming them and of being an agent in the pay of the government. Carpio has all along insisted that he never distributed or sold any copies of the report.