Troubling attacks on Peruvian radio station

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

His Excellency José Antonio Raymundo Bellina Acevedo, Ambassador to Canada
Embassy of the Republic of Peru
130 Albert Street Suite 201-1901
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5G4

Dear Ambassador,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE is troubled by two major attacks on Radio Paraiso, located in Olmos in the Lambayeque region of northern Peru, which have resulted in nearly US$6,000 in damaged equipment and the indefinite cancellation of their broadcast.

The two attacks against Radio Paraiso - vandalism and alleged arson - occurred in January and February 2013 respectively. During the early hours of January 23, unknown assailants tore into the roof of the broadcasting station and damaged a stabilizer. The second attack happened on February 8 when fire broke out station, burning down a 300 watt transmitter, a transformer, a stabilizer and cables, and other essential equipment.

According to reports by press freedom organization Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS), these attacks appear to be in response to the channel’s early-January broadcast of a news program from Lambayeque capital Chiclayo, in which the municipal management of Olmos Mayor Willy Serrato Puse was criticized. Serrato Puse denies any responsibilities in an official letter, claiming the incident was organized to damage his public image.

Last month, CJFE joined Reporters Without Borders, Rory Peck Trust, and Free Press Unlimited to provide an emergency grant for the reconstruction of Radio Paraiso’s broadcast station and replacement of their lost equipment. But while we can help to rebuild the radio station, we call upon the government of Peru to ensure that journalists are able to work in safety and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,
Arnold Amber, CJFE President

Cc: Mrs. Patricia Fortier, Ambassador of Canada to Peru and Bolivia
The Honourable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs

Emergency grants for media professionals who have been threatened or attacked as a direct result of their work are made through CJFE’s Journalists in Distress (JID) Program. The JID program relies on the continued, generous funding of individuals and organisations; please click here to learn more about the program and donate to CJFE’s work.