Peru

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1 PERU Amid many complaints of threats, harassment, manipulations and pressures from the government and the intelligence services, respect for freedom of the press remained at the center of a national debate during a time framed by the general elections scheduled for April 9. Of particular concern has been an attack by state-owned TV on the good name of the editors of the daily El Comercio. This was seen as a possible prelude to legal proceedings aimed at undermining the editorial independence of Peru’s leading newspaper. On March 13, the Peruvian Press Council issued a statement saying that it was ―keeping a close watch on the employment of a policy of legal maneuvers which, under the guise of business dispute resolution, in fact seeks to curtail the independent news media’s freedom of expression.‖ The Council was referring to the case of El Comercio. The newspaper had reported on alleged massive falsification of signatures to enable the Peru 2000 National Front coalition, which supports President Fujimori’s candidacy, to officially enter the presidential race. Following this, the Council said, it had become aware that ―legal action is being orchestrated to place control of the newspaper in the hands of a group of minority shareholders who have links to the government.‖ It also expressed repudiation of the seizure of equipment at Radio Difusora 1160 radio station, owned by Genaro Delgado Parker. He also had controlling interest in the Red Global Canal 13 television station, but it has been taken over by a group of shareholders who have banned any political news commentary from being aired by the station. Other major developments have included the following: October 22–Employees who have resigned from the sensationalist daily, El Chato, disclosed that the paper’s owners received money clandestinely from the public relations executive Augusto Bresani. Bresani has been linked to the intelligence services. The money would pay for dirty campaigns aimed at tarnishing opposition candidates running against the incumbent President Alberto Fujimori. El Chato’s publishers denied the accusations. October 26–Former El Chato employees Richard Molinares, managing editor; Hugo Borja, police editor; and Rosario Rojas, in charge of health and the archives, asked for security protection after receiving threats in response to their charges. Executives of the National Association of Journalists of Chimbote reported that radio stations and regional newspapers that receive substantial advertising from the government are monitored by the headquarters of different ministries and government agencies associated with the re-election campaign of Fujimori. The president of the Internal Control Commission of the Attorney General’s office, Pablo Visalot Chávez, began investigating public prosecutor Antenor Córdova Díaz on charges of prevarication. He allegedly dropped the investigation of six sensationalist dailies who were tarnishing the image of Alberto Andrade, the mayor of Lima. The lawsuit is considered risky because it touches on the crime of contempt. October 28–In August 1999 the Free Press Association filed a complaint with the National Elections Board regarding the existence of a plan of the Army Intelligence Services to tail the candidates Andrade and Castañeda Lossio. Free Press has now been accused. 2 A public law judge denied the order of protection requested by the Free Press Association against senior officials of the military justice and the intelligence services for the alleged violation of several constitutional rights. October 29–Judge Jorge Ríos Abanto summoned journalists Cecilia Valenzuela and Luis Iberico to defend their complaint against the Argentine fugitive, Héctor Ricardo Faisal Francalossi, also described as a mind-reader and collaborator of the intelligence services. The complaint centers on the Web page of the Association in Defense of Truth (Aprodev), headed by Faisal. Faisal was absolved in an earlier complaint filed by journalists of the daily La República. The court decided that the articles Aaprodev published on the Internet against journalists were harmless reproductions of newspaper items. November 1–Luisa Zanatta, a former intelligence agent, declared in Florida that wiretapping of telephones continues in Peru. She also said that the smear campaign against opposition candidates in the ―yellow press‖ is fed information by the intelligence services. One of the campaign’s main objectives, she said, is to ruin the image of several persons the government finds inconvenient. November 2–The publication Sólido Norte, listing false addresses and telephone numbers, appears in Trujillo (La Libertad). Despite uncertain origins, the publication’s stories are partial to Fujimori’s re-election and offensive toward independent journalists and opposition presidential candidates. November 4–Mrs. Ríos de Nestares, mayor of La Oroya and member of the official political group, ―Vamos Vecinos,‖ threatened ―to have the National Intelligence Service‖ arrange for the disappearance of radio journalists Javier Arias and Luis Santos of Radio La Oroya. Their offense was to air neighborhood complaints and reports of irregularities carried out in behalf of the mayor. November 10–Alejandro Miró Quesada, president of the Peruvian Press Council, said the closing of two widely-watched televised political programs represents concrete evidence of pressures brought on television channels, as previously denounced by Genaro Delgado Parker, former president of the Radio and Television Association. The U.S. Senate passed Resolution 209 which questions the independence of the judicial power and the electoral process in Peru. The resolution also condemned what it called grave actions against freedom of the press. The resolution, proposed by Sen. Jesse Helms and approved unanimously, takes note of the seizure of Baruch Ivcher’s Channel 2. November 11–The daily La República condemned a television program that slanders the paper and its publisher, Gustavo Mohme Llona. The spot also uses inappropriate language to describe Lima’s mayor, Alberto Andrade. The lengthy program was authored by the newspapers El Tío, El Mañanero, El Chato, La Chuchi, El Chino, Conclusión and Diario Más. It accuses La República of having endangered the lives of hundreds when it disclosed the construction of a tunnel under the residence of the Japanese ambassador at the time it was occupied by MRTA terrorists three years ago. Angel Dúran, host of the program ―Enfoque‖ on Radio Quassar in Huaraz, department of Ancash, was wounded by gunfire. The incident occurred after he linked Fredy Moreno with graft. Moreno is the vice-minister of the presidency and a former president of the Chavin region. The attack on Dúran remains unsolved. Durán escaped a similar attempt in 1998. November 12–The Emergency Network of Journalists of the Press and Society Institute reported receiving nearly one hundred complaints from journalists of threats and aggressions received while engaged in news covering. Of the reported cases, 96.7% came from radio station 3 personnel in the provinces. The network received 31 complaints related to libel and defamation trials; 14 to verbal and physical abuse and death threats; 11 related to accusations of terrorism; 10 having to do with the closing of programs or radio stations. Additionally, seven complaints cover attempts against media installations; six are about legal prosecution; five report harassment by the military and the national police; two reflect kidnapping and a murder attempt. Most of the journalists who have been pursued, attacked or threatened blame these activities on local authorities or government officials in their respective areas. November 19–Hundreds of anonymous pamphlets containing intimidating language that targets various media journalists and farm leaders, were distributed during a campesino gathering in Piura, in northern Peru. The pamphlets, evidently the work of intelligence agents, labeled the newspapers La República and Correo and Radio Cutivalú as ―mouthpieces of terrorism.‖ November 20–The pro-government pamphlet El Sur started to circulate. It endorsed the re-election of Fujimori and defamed opposition candidates. Some issues attacked the independent press, especially La República. Similar pamphlets are Sólido Norte, distributed in the provinces of La Libertad and Lambayeque, and Norte Chico, in Huacho. El Sur carries no staff listing nor proof of having met legal requirements; it only gives some vague address in Lima. There have been complaints that these publications are financed with government money. November 21–The Inter-American Human Rights Commission (CIDH) issued a cautionary measure on behalf of Guillermo Gonzaléz Arica, a staff member of the magazine Caretas and member of Free Press. Gonzaléz Arica has been accused of offenses against the public trust. November 29–Rolando Rodrich, editor of Correo, in Piura, is accused of having revealed corruption cases that involve Gerardo Soto Quiroz, president of the Superior Court. December 3–Colombian journalist Carlos A. Pulgarín, seeks asylum in Peru after having received threats in his country from military groups. The Peruvian government offered him guarantees and provided a two-person security escort. He requested asylum in Spain and traveled there the third week of February. During his stay in Peru Pulgarín received two phone threats. December 11–Officials of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications try to shut down Radio Libertad, in Trujillo, after the owners refused to broadcast the government slogan ―Peru–Country with a Future‖ during the newscast, ―La Voz de la Calle. Officials initially had bought advertising time to air the slogan, but later tried to have it included in the newscast, compromising the station management’s views. December 17–Journalist Guillermo Gonzalés Arica handed over to the CIDH in Washington various original documents taken from the National Intelligence Services. The documents explained how politicians and journalists were to be followed and watched during the electoral campaign of 1995. December 20–La República complained that unidentified persons, riding motorbikes and pickups, seized all the copies of the supplement ―Domingo.‖ It reported on an investigation into the personal background of the presidential advisor and intelligence services chief, Vladimiro Montesinos. December 22–The 2nd Court of Tax and Customs Crimes, with Judge Elizabeth Pinedo presiding, ordered the capture of television executive Genaro Delgado Parker. He is wanted for alleged illegal appropriation. The lawsuit appears to have started with a series of advertising contracts between TeleCable and Panamericana Televisión. Delgado Parker is also involved in another trial in which he is charged with fraud and aggravated fraud of Pan Tel. The executive said in Miami that political persecution was behind his legal problems. December 24–Police officers from Aucayacu (Tingo María, Junín) seized from several journalists film shot at an explosion at a nearby antisubversion base. Five soldiers were killed. The 5th Criminal Court in Lima sentenced Horacio Podestá, of Caretas, to serve a year of conditional freedom and pay damages of 20,000 soles for defaming attorney Javier Corrochano Patrón. Podestá reported that Corrochano had helped a drug boss, Bruno Chiappe, escape from Peru. Chiappe is one of the chiefs of ―Los Camellos‖ drug cartel. Podestá also reported that Chiappe tried to extort the car dealer Eduardo Dibós, in return for keeping silent about his involvement with the drug ring. The journalist appealed and demanded that the Appeals Court review the case and substantiate the truth of the published stories. December 30–A car with three occupants who identified themselves as police officers rammed a mobile unit of La República out on assignment. The men first threatened to arrest the reporters, then they chased them and crushed part of the unit; finally they physically assaulted the driver. January 10–A 12-page issue of Repudio, a tabloid that appears occasionally, circulated with items that caricatured the march organized in Lima by labor unions, political groups, students and retirees to protest the re-election of Fujimori. Seven pages of the issue mocked the editor of La República, Gustavo Mohme. January 13–Businessman Baruch Ivcher had to leave Madrid suddenly when he learned Spanish police had an order to detain him. The search-and-capture order was handled through Interpol. Ivcher was in Madrid to participate in the presentation of the Movement for the Defense of Democracy in Peru at the headquarters of the Association of Foreign Correspondents. January 18–A group of citizens staged a ―strike against muzzling‖ in front of television channels 4, 5 and 7. They were protesting peacefully the lack of independence of the stations vis-a-vis the Fujimori administration and the excessive presence of the president on the broadcast channels. January 26–Rafael Rey, a candidate for the office of first vice president from the political movement, Avancemos, complained that six broadcast television stations refused to accept campaign advertising from presidential candidate Federico Salas. He identified the stations as Frecuencia Latina (TV2), América TV (4), Panamericana Televisión (5), the state-owned Radio Televisión Peruana (7), and Global Televisión (13). January 31–Lawmakers Javier Alva Orlandini (Acción Popular) and Fernando Olivera (Frente Independiente Moralizador) called for a thorough investigation of allegations that public funds are being used to finance the sensationalist press. No action has been taken to date. February 3–The 13th Specialized Civil Court ordered an embargo of Radio 1160’s transmitter, which silenced the station for approximately a week. Oscar Becerra, general producer for news at the station reported that at the same time another court ordered the seizure of the station’s offices and recording booth. The intervention grew out of a civil lawsuit involving a debt the station’s owner, Marconi S.A. owed Rosita Ferrari, former stockholder in Red Global de Televisión. Becerra said the confiscation of properties, buildings and furnishings seemed appropriate, but questioned the confiscation of the transmitter. He blamed this move on Julio Vera Abad, current legal administrator of Red Global, who wants—according to Becerra—to keep control of the company and ―prevent its return to Genaro Delgado Parker, the mayority stockholder. The legal move coincided with the launching of the opposition political program, ―Waves of Freedom, hosted by César Hildebrandt. February 4–Fernando Alfaro Venturo, director and host of the political analysis program ―Line of Sight, protested a ban that kept the second edition of the program off the air. The 5 program is broadcast on Canal 6-Video Oriente, in Pucallpa, Ucayali department He said the ban responded to instructions from some executives to stay away from topics that could upset President Fujimori and his advisor Vladimiro Montesinos. February 11–The International Association of Broadcasting (AIR) protested the halt in legal proceedings involving Radio 1160 of Lima. The pause represented, he said, a de facto silencing of the radio and an attempt against freedom of expression. Enrique Zileri, president of the Peruvian Press Council, described a resolution of the National Electoral Board urging the media to refuse advertising of the presidential candidates as a ―salute to the flag. February 17–The 40th Civil Court in Lima ordered a second seizure of equipment belonging to station Radio 1160. The measure includes the seizure of a transmitter owned by Central de Radios. Provisional Judge Ana María Mejía issued the order. She is the same judge that about a year ago confiscated the Red Global stock of Delgado Parker. Radio 1160 belongs to Empresa Radioemisora Marconi, whose majority stockholder is the producer Racier, also linked to Delgado Parker. Racier was supposed to take over management of Red Global this year. Franco de Ferrari petitioned the confiscation order. The son of the late Vittorio de Ferrari, owner of Channel 13, the younger Ferrari is demanding payment of a US $113,000 personal loan his father gave the station. The seizure took place although the defendant tried to pay the debt with a certified check for $113,000. The closing of the station coincided with the broadcasting, a day before, of a Hildebrandt interview with Susana Higuchi, the former wife of President Fujimori. Higuichi said her husband received Japanese donations ―which he never accounted for.‖ February 18–Radio 1160 executives appealed to the government’s ombudsman and counteracted the Ferrari moves with legal preventive measures. Oscar Becerra, the producer of the opposition political program ―Waves of Freedom,‖ argued that the plaintiff’s refusal to accept the debt-satisfying certified check, even in the presence of Judge Mejía, proves that the dispute is political and not legal. February 29–Photographers José Abanto and Jhony Laurente of La República were assaulted by José Germana and an unidentified accomplice. The assailants also destroyed their photographic equipment. The attack occurred as they finished their coverage of the T-shirt case. The T-shirts, with the logo ―Peru 2000‖ (the group that endorses Fujimori’s re-election), were ordered by the government’s intelligence service, according to La República. Hugo Ushiñahua Panduro, journalist and owner of radio station Red Univisión Satélite, of Nueva Cajamarca, Rioja province, complained of receiving anonymous phone calls since December 30, 1999, threatening him with death. Some of the calls suggested that the central committee of the Communist Party and (terrorist) Sendero Luminoso want the station’s reporters and Ushiñahua himself to get out of the city, ―otherwise you may pay with your life. The authorities have been asked to provide protection. March 1–Two months after the electoral campaign began, the broadcast television stations decided to make available free time–15 minute–to all the political groups. The offer would become effective March 6. March 2–Journalist Ana Tejada of La República complained that she was kidnapped briefly in the southern city of Tacna by Walter Chipoco, who erased political statements from her tape recorder. Chipoco is campaign director for Carmen Lozada de Gamboa, a congresswoman from the ruling political party.

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