Luis Alberto Perez Barillas, Guatemala

Luis Alberto Perez Barillas operated a community radio station in the town of Rabinal, located in the department of Baja Verapaz. He is also the region's correspondent for Prensa Libre, the highest-circulation national daily newspaper in Guatemala, and its sister publication Nuestro Diario. Perez Barillas has fearlessly reported on the alleged involvement of senior officials in the ruling FRG party in the massacre between 1978 and 1984 of 200,000 Guatemalans during a civil conflict that endures to this day. More than a quarter of the population of Perez Barillas's hometown Rabinal perished in the massacres between 1981 and 1983. He has faced threats and physical attacks for his work since 2001. But things spiralled out of control when Perez Barillas received telephone threats on June 23 and 24, 2003. And a week later, somebody made good on the threats when a homemade bomb was thrown into the journalist's home. Perez Barillas went into hiding but there were new threats - this time a written note aimed at his sister and threatening her and her children if her brother failed to "shut up." The journalist now lives in hiding, moving around in a variety of safehouses in Guatemala. His case has been championed by Amnesty International, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists and the UN Mission in Guatemala.
International Press Freedom Award
2003

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