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Guatemala: PEN urges the authorities to protect its journalists following the murder of two journalists

Tuesday 13 February 2018 - 11:10pm

Journalists gather at the entrance of the Interior Ministry during a protest against the killing of three journalists in Guatemala City on March 15, 2015

The murder of two journalists serves as a stark reminder that the Guatemalan authorities must do more to protect its journalists, said PEN International today, following the discovery of the bodies of two journalists in Suchitepéquez department.

PEN International joins PEN Guatemala in condemning the murders of journalists Laurent Ángel Castillo Cifuentes and Luis Alfredo de León Miranda, whose bodies were found, bound hand and foot with gunshots to the head, on a farm in Santo Domingo, Suchitepéquez on 1 February 2018.

Castillo Cifuentes, 28, was a correspondent for Nuestro Diario newspaper and a cultural magazine in Coatepeque, Quetzaltenango department. De León Miranda, 30, worked as a publicist for Radio Coaltepec. The two had reportedly travelled to Mazatenango, Suchitepéquez, in order to cover the carnival.

Their murders come only a few days after journalist groups and PEN Guatemala condemned statements made by Guatemala City mayor and former president, Álvaro Arzú Irigoyen, who implied that the Guatemalan press are undermining the nation’s progress by slandering the nation and its leaders, and stated that “we must go over the heads of negative media outlets” during a speech delivered at a military event; evidence of the hostility that journalists in the country face.

It is fundamental that journalists are able to freely and safely exercise their profession in Guatemala, with all the guarantees of security that this implies. If the Government does not comply with that obligation, it is failing to fulfil its duty by not guaranteeing a right that is included in the Political Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala for all Guatemalans in Articles 1 of title I, and in Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution. Title II,” said the PEN Guatemala.

PEN International and PEN Guatemala call on local and national authorities not only to clarify the crimes of journalists and prosecute the guilty parties, but also to guarantee their citizens’, writers’ and journalists’ right to free expression.