MIAMI, Florida (February 2, 2018)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today condemned the murders in Guatemala of a journalist and an advertising agent and urged the authorities to investigate speedily in order to learn the motives, identify those responsible and bring them to justice.
The bodies of Laurent Ángel Castillo Cifuentes, correspondent of the newspaper Nuestro Diario in Coatepeque, Quetzaltenango province, and of Luis Alfredo de León Miranda, an advertising agent with radio station Coaltepec, were found yesterday (February 1) by sugar cane cutters on a local farm. The bodies were tied hand and foot and had gunshot wounds in the head, the Public Prosecutor's Office reported.
IAPA President Gustavo Mohme immediately expressed his sympathy to the two victims' family members and colleagues. Mohme, editor of the Peruvian newspaper La República, added that "while we do not know if these crimes are connected to the victims' activities in their respective news media outlets, we repeat what we warned just days ago regarding the fact that verbal attacks on journalists and media could encourage acts of violence."
The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Roberto Rock, added his words of sympathy and said that "the Guatemalan authorities must investigate these murders expeditiously." Rock, editor of the Mexican news portal La Silla Rota, added, "To ensure the safety of journalists is essential for the exercise of press freedom, as leaving a crime against a journalist unsolved goes against this fundamental right."
Castillo, 28, and De León, 30, on last Sunday (January 28) traveled to the city of Mazatenango to cover the celebration of a local carnival with the intention of publishing a magazine on this festival. A person close to Castillo's family reported that the journalis had recently received phone calls seeking to blackmail him, for which reason he had changed his telephone number, although according to what his father told the press his son had never mentioned that he had been threatened.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida.