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Guatemala7 February 2007

Safety of journalists at risk as radio reporter narrowly survives a murder attempt

Reporters Without Borders called for a strong and effective reaction to worsening security for journalists in Guatemala after Winder Jordán Madrid, news editor on local Radio Sultana and correspondent for national daily Nuestro Diario, was shot at in Gualán in the eastern department of Zacapa.

Jordán Madrid was fired at by two men on a motorbike as he left his home to get into his car on 2 February. At the moment the shots were fired, the journalist turned back to his home to drop off some items. As he headed back he saw the bike go past a second time and riddle his car with bullets. He immediately hid behind a tree and in the dark was unable to identify the gunmen.

“Winder Jordán Madrid had an extraordinary escape from this attack,” said the press freedom organisation, expressing its solidarity with him. “Nevertheless this murder attempt marks a serious deterioration in the safety of journalists in Guatemala.”

“One journalist was killed and another badly wounded in a shooting in 2006 and these crimes have so far gone unpunished. The run-up to general elections in September could exacerbate the danger, underlining the need for the active involvement of the political and judicial authorities as well as the profession,” it said.

The journalist had written an article a few days before the shooting about a traffic accident in which he reported that the driver responsible had not yet passed his driving test. The man’s two sisters had then turned up at Jordán Madrid’s home and made death threats against him.

The Guatemalan press freedom organisation, Cerigua, condemned the attack and called for the journalist and his family to be given protection. The case has been referred to the human rights prosecutor and the prosecutor’s office responsible for offences against journalists and trade unionists.

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