The press has once again come under attack and harassment in an electoral year. One journalist died while covering incidents involving supporters of the ruling party, who also assaulted reporters and photographers, forcing them flee in order to save their lives. Also causing concern have been the acts perpetrated against journalist José Rubén Zamora, president of elPeriódico. A group of armed men broke into his home in Guatemala City and terrorized him and his family for several hours. The official investigation has yielded no results. In the days following this incident he was followed by vehicles with tinted windows. These acts ended after he publicly denounced them and blamed the government for both incidents. The newspaper’s editor, Juan Luis Font, was threatened several days later. Election coverage has also become difficult for newspaper reporters and photographers. Rallies of the ruling Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG) have featured public criticism of journalists, which encourages acts of aggression by FRG supporters. Reporters and photographers have been assaulted on at least one occasion. In Rabinal, a town harshly repressed during the de facto government of Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt, opponents threw rocks at Ríos Montt, who is now a presidential candidate. Some reporters covering the event were subsequently threatened. One of them, Luis Barillas, a correspondent for Prensa Libre, suffered an attack on his home. He has sought the protection of international organizations in order to leave the country. In another development that has caused great concern, ten presidential candidates — out of the twelve who are running — joined together to protest the opinion surveys reported by the newspapers. At first they demanded that their names and party logos not be used, arguing that the surveys are manipulated in favor of a certain candidate. The campaign speeches of some political candidates make aggressive statements toward the written press. Foremost among these are Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt, the ruling party candidate, and former President Álvaro Arzú, now running for mayor of Guatemala City. Ríos Montt and Arzú often repeat the saying, “The press must either be paid off or pummeled.” Human Rights Prosecutor Sergio Morales announced that journalists Luis De León from elPeriódico; Carmen Morán Cruz, a correspondent in Rabinal for the Cerigua news agency; Edgar René Sáenz, a correspodent for Prensa Libre in Sololá; Alberto Sandoval, an independent journalist in Jutiapa; and Pablo Joaquín Rax, a correspondent for various news outlets in Cobán, Alta Verapaz, have received threats for their work as journalists. Morales also said that an investigation had been opened into each of these cases. Guatemala Attorney General Carlos de León, whose independence from the FRG administration has been questioned by the press itself, set up a special prosecutor’s office to investigate the cases involving the reporters. However, this office has not solved any of the cases so far, and in fact not a single one of them has even been referred to the courts. In the case of Zamora, it was said that he had not cooperated with the public prosector’s office, even though he had helped the special prosecutor in the presence of multiple witnesses. The most significant developments, in chronological order, are: - June 24: A group of armed men invaded the home of José Rubén Zamora, a journalist at elPeriódico, terrorizing him and his family for three hours. “The higher-ups are very upset with you,” they repeated while holding a gun to his head in front of his wife and children. In the days that followed, he was pursued and harassed on public thoroughfares. Zamora was forced to send his family out of the country, and the investigation into the case has progressed very slowly. All indications point to the involvement of paramilitary groups with close ties to the repressive apparatus of the army. - July 2: Carmen Morán, a correspondent for the news agency Centro de Reportes Informativos de Guatemala (Cerigua), received a death threat demanding that she resign from her job, according to chief editor Luis Ovalle. - July 4: Unknown subjects broke into the home of Luis Eduardo de León, a reporter with the investigative department of elPeriódico. The only item taken was the reporter’s computer. - July 11: Armed men burst into the printing facility of Nuestro Diario and, after asking for several employees, drew their guns and fired them several times in threatening fashion. Managers at the paper have also reported being followed by unidentified vehicles. - July 25: A group of supporters of General Efraín Ríos Montt staged violent demonstrations in various parts of Guatemala City. At one demonstration, a mob attacked reporters. While attempting to flee, Héctor Ramírez, a 62-year-old reporter for the television news program “Tele Diario,” suffered a heart attack and died on the scene. Other reporters were assaulted as well. FRG supporters fired on Jennifer Paredes and Marvin del Cid. - July 26: Once again, FRG mobs tried to assault reporters covering the demonstrations. Human Rights Prosecutor Sergio Morales stepped in, demanding that the government protect members of the press. - September 26: Opponents of Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt clashed violently with supporters of the ruling party at a rally in Ixcán, in the province of Quiché. The reporters covering the event were assaulted by FRG supporters, who destroyed the camera of a photographer from Nuestro Diario. -The monopoly of broadcast television continues despite the fact that President Alfonso Portillo promised an IAPA delegation two years ago that he would end it by transferring at least channels 5 and 9 to private ownership.