Bogota on October 29th 2012.
Two executives of the Bolivian newspaper have faced some official harassment from the Bolivian government regarding the reporting of government corruption in northern department of Pando. And CPJ saying they critically condemn it. According to the news reports the two journalists has to search protection from Brazil for 3 days.
On October 13th Wilson Gracia Merida who is the founder, editor and the owner of the biweekly Sol de Pando with his general Manager Silvia Antelo left Cobija which is the department capital to Brasilea. It is the nearest border town of Brazil. These two journalists had to face harassments two times by the investigators. According to the news reports and Franz Chavez the coordinator for the La Paz those investigators has told they are from police and district attorney’s office. Chavez said to CPJ that the two journalists left the capital because they thought that will get arrested.
The two journalists stayed in Cobija and they were in the process for distributing the new edition of Sol De Pando. In this new edition they have included the government, ethnic population and the social affairs of department of Pando. Investigators entered to the hotel where they stayed in Cobija with an order. They have recognized them by taking the photographs. Gracia informed the reporters on Sunday that the investigators asked them to leave.
According to the secretary of legal affairs for the Pando government Pedro Melgar informed CPJ that there is no such procedure has taken by the local authorities to stop the distribution of the paper or to harass the journalists. On Tuesday Antelo left Brazil and came back to La Paz, the capital city of Bolivia and at the same time Garcia went to her home in Cochabamba. Furthermore they said they wanted to stay in Bolivia and continue their publishing of Sol de Pando but they are not confident at all. They feel they will face harassments from the government.
Going back on past Sol De Pando has reported in the paper and its editor the corruptions done by the government. Due to these reasons Bolivian officials are always behind Gracia. Gracia had charged by Flores, a former congressman and he is the brother of Pando Gov, for illegally received work contracts from the government and those were published on the Sol De Pando in June 2011. But Flores rejects all those claims. This incident was told to CPJ by Melgar. More than 2000 copies of the Sol De Pando were asked to remove from the area by the governor as it includes the details of the government corruption which the officials had denied those blames.
Carols Lauria CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas who is in New York said the management of Sol de Pando should not get fear for any reason as it contains sensitive points. Furthermore they said the authorities of Pando department should stop the harassments immediately and let the paper to be circulated freely.
There were always clashes in between the critical media outlets and Bolivian government officials. On August these government authorities filed criminal complaints against three media outlets. The reason behind this is, they said the media outlets were rousing the racism and they have pointed out the speech done by president Evo Morales.
INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR THE PROTECTION AND FREEDOM OF JOURNALISTS