In a cruel twist of fate, a Paraguayan journalist was murdered April 25, the day before the country’s “Journalism Day” which takes place each year on April 26.
Carlos Manuel Artaza, 45, was shot by two men on a motorcycle April 24, and died in the early hours the next day en route to a hospital in the country’s capital of Asunción, Reporters Without borders reported.
According to Paraguayan online news website, lanacion.com.py, Artaza, who worked as both a press photographer for the local mayor’s office and as areporter, was in his car when he was shot five times in the thorax by two men on a motorcycle.
Artaza was just returning from a demonstration celebrating parliamentarian Pedro González’s successful gubernatorial campaign in Amambay. A local police officer heard gunshots, rushed to the scene and found Artaza bleeding in the front seat of his car, Paraguayan news website la-Razón.com reported.
Arambay police told la-Razón that the journalist was murdered in an area known for its high drug and crime activities.
Artaza is the second journalist to be killed in Amambay this year, following the murder of radio station owner and manager Marcelino Vázquez, whose murder in early February has yet to be solved. The region has long been known for producing marijuana, and Reporters Without Borders wrote that Vazquez’s death was likely associated with his reporting on the drug trade.
According to lanacion.com.py, Police will investigate whether Artaza’s recent political radio reporting had any connection with his murder. Reporters Without Borders added that, “Threats and intimidation marred the campaign for the April 21 general election, which was also marked by revelations about links between organized crime and various politicians including the winner of the presidential race, Horacio Cartes.”
Just days before the election, TV journalist Anibal Gómez Caballero received threatening messages on his mobile phone regarding his moderating of a live debate between candidates on the cable TV station Gosi Telenorte.
“If we were able to kill Santiago Leguizamón, it will be even easier to kill you with the help of a bomb,” the messages reportedly said, in both Spanish and Guaraní.
Gomez told lanacion.com.py that Artaza’s radio work and criticisms of the presidential campaign might have lead to his murder.
Candido Figueredo, correspondent for the national daily ABC Color in Pedro Juan Caballero, also received a death threat on his cellular phone after covering the Artaza shooting. Figueredo, who was already receiving police protection, told Reporters Without Borders that he now travels with four police bodyguards.