GUATEMALA Report to the Midyear Meeting Caracas, Venezuela March 28 - 30, 2008 A number of incidents have had a negative impact on freedom of speech during this period, and journalists have been subjected to acts of intimidation. Most recently, on the evening of March 7, 2008, Mynor Toc of Prensa Libre newspaper, José Cancinos of the local newspaper El Metropolitano, Carlos Ventura of the newspaper Nuestro Diario, Vinicio Tan of Radio Stereo 100, Walter Albillo of the news program “Primera Línea” on Cable DX, Antonio Uluan of the television news program “Noti 7,” and Diego López of the program “TVO” on Channel 9 were beaten by members of the National Civil Police while covering a raid on a residence in the southwestern department of Quetzaltenango, 190 kilometers outside Guatemala City. Elsewhere, while covering the arrest of police officers implicated in the theft of jewelry in Xelajú, several journalists were assaulted by members of Guatemala’s Antinarcotics Police, who prevented the detained from being photographed or videotaped. One police officer reloaded his weapon and pointed it at the reporters to intimidate them. In another incident, police officers transporting three robbery suspects to a holding facility kicked, beat, and shoved reporters, cameramen, and photographers. At the headquarters of the former colonial government in Antigua Guatemala, in the department of Sacatepéquez, the presidential security team and municipal police surrounded journalists while President Álvaro Colom exited another door. In February, President Colom announced that the military archives from the era of the internal armed conflict would be opened in the interests of justice and to reveal the fate of thousands of victims of the conflict. Not only does this represent a step forward in providing access to classified information, but it bodes well for human rights and may even usher in a law on freedom of information. On February 26 Belter Álvarez, a former specialist on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confessed in court to his role in the illegal raid on the residence of José Rubén Zamora, editor of elPeriódico, on June 24, 2003. On that day, 11 men and one woman illegally entered Zamora’s home in Zone 12 of Guatemala City; they held him, his family, and three employees captive for two hours, during which time the victims were insulted, assaulted, threatened, humiliated, and subjected to a simulated execution. According to the journalist’s statement to the court, he also suffered property losses, as the assailants removed some items from his home. The editor of elPeriódico also said that senior officials in the administration of former President Alfonso Portillo, who ruled Guatemala from 2000 to 2003, were involved in this incident. These officials include Marco Tulio Abadío, former director of the tax authority, and former attorney general Carlos de León Argueta. According to the Center for Informative Reports on Guatemala (CERIGUA), Mario Castañeda, the special prosecutor for crimes against journalists and union activists, said there is enough evidence to prove Álvarez’s participation and responsibility. Also in February, journalist Hugo Oliva of Jalapa, a correspondent for Prensa Libre, was attacked by unknown assailants who a few days earlier had been seen in a vehicle loitering outside his house. He was brutally beaten on the head and other parts of his body. Oliva demanded that the authorities immediately investigate the crime and provide protection for himself and his family. On February 5, while visiting Cuba, Guatemalan Vice President Rafael Espada gave an interview to the newspaper Juventud Rebelde, during which he claimed that the local press does not want the new administration to “get ahead,” and he described business owners as the “threat of economic power.” On October 24, journalists Enrique Castañeda and Gilda Mérida of elPeriódico newspaper said they had been threatened in connection with their investigation into the campaign financing of the Patriotic Party in the latest presidential elections. On December 13, the IAPA sent a letter to Guatemalan Attorney General Juan Luis Florida, requesting an expedited investigation into the December 10 killing of radio personality Miguel Ángel Amaya Pérez in Santa Elena, in the department of Petén. Oscar Rodolfo Castañeda, the station director at Radio 10, reported to the IAPA representative that his station is being boycotted by the country’s corporate sector as a result of its reporting on the manipulation of information and disputes between companies and corporate tax evasion. Castañeda also said that the Guatemalan government has not provided his station with the security measures ordered by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights after an employee, Vinicio Aguilar, was attacked.