Condemn Attacks on Journalists in Bolivia

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Target: President Evo Morales

Goal: Investigate and prevent ongoing attacks against Bolivian journalists who denounce corruption

Bolivian journalist Fernando Vidal was recently attacked by masked men while broadcasting on live radio. The men broke into the radio station and lit equipment and Mr. Vidal on fire. This is the fourth attack on Bolivian radio stations in the past five months. The increasing violence against journalists in Bolivia is a troubling trend. Call upon President Evo Morales and his government to investigate these crimes and ensure the protection of free speech.

Fernando Vidal, owner and editor of Radio Popular, has been an outspoken critic of corruption and criminal activities in the Gran Chaco province. Located less than two miles from the Argentinian border, the city of Yacuíba is well accustomed to a high-volume of trade between the two countries. Yet hidden within the legal exchange of goods is a darker side to this necessary commerce: smuggling, particularly of liquid petroleum gas and drugs. It seems to be more than a coincidence that the attack on the Radio Popular station took place as Mr. Vidal was conducting a live interview on drug smuggling.

Bolivian minister Carlos Romero believes that this attack was an organized effort and that the perpetrators were hired by an as-of-yet unknown source to silence the vocal journalist. And while four suspects have been arrested, there is a deeper problem to be resolved. This increase in attacks on journalists who condemn corruption highlights the Bolivian government’s inability to protect those individuals who speak out. The government must not only ensure that justice is done for Mr. Vidal, but that all those who exercise their freedom of speech are protected.

Call upon President Morales and his government to investigate these crimes against free expression and protect this essential freedom.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Morales,

The recent attack against Mr. Fernando Vidal, the owner and editor of Radio Popular in Yacuíba, highlights a severe problem that is on the rise in your country. The attack on Mr. Vidal—the burning of the Radio Popular station and of Mr. Vidal himself—is the fourth example of violence against journalists in the past five months. Even more troubling, it seems as though Mr. Vidal was targeted because of his outspoken criticism of corruption and criminal activity.

Located less than two miles from the Argentinian border, the city of Yacuíba is well accustomed to cross-border trade. Unfortunately, the city is also no stranger to smuggling. Mr. Vidal was conducting a live interview on drug smuggling when four men broke into his station and set his equipment aflame. It is believed that these men were hired by an outside source to silence a critical voice.

Your government must take all necessary measures to investigate this crime and ensure the protection of all journalists. What is truly at stake in this issue is freedom of speech and expression; failing to protect a single voice is a failure to protect all.

I appreciate your swift action on this important issue.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: matthewven via Flickr

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