PARAGUAY Press freedom has been marred by numerous physical attacks and threats against journalists and their media. On March 16, thenewspaper ABC Color received a telephone threat - the third in just a few days - that a bomb had been placed on its premises and was about to explode. The National Police investigated and found it was a false alarm. On March 31, a Group of Special Operation (GEO) police officer shot twice at Noticias journalist Gualberto Areco who was covering a peasant land invasion on private property in Minga Guaza in the eastern part of the country. Areco was taking photos as the police cleared out peasants and burnt down their dwellings. He had clearly identified himself as a working journalist. On April 4, the directors of three radio stations in Caaguazu in the center of the country expressed their concern over two "pirate" radio stations in this city. The directors asked the National Telecommunications Councils (CONATEL) to form a commission to confiscate pirate radio station equipment. On April 25, Judge Pedro Mayor Martinez refused the press access to documents concerning an alleged bribe attempt. He justified his action by "the secrecy of summary proceedings," even though the dossier involved an alleged act of corruption within the judicial branch and was therefore of public interest. The magistrate questioned the manipulation of information and especially the way the press had already covered the case. On May 23, in Ciudad del Este on the Brazilian border, a National Police non-commissioned officer threatened ABC Color photographer Carlos Bottino with death and violently confiscated his camera. Bottino was taking photos of a police officer linked to a robbery. The camera was returned after several hours, but the film inside had been switched. A Criminal Court judge ordered the preventive detention of the non-commissioned officer. On July 22, a representative of Teledifusora Paraguaya S.A. and Radio Cardinal, members of the Red Privada de Comunicaci6n, challenged the constitutionality of several articles in the Electoral Code. Their argument before the Supreme Court claimed that these articles were a form of censorship because of restrictions imposed on the press through the regulation and limition of electoral advertising. On September 16, Judge Carlos Ortiz Barrios rejected a lawsuit against newspaper ABC Color filed by prosecutor Carmelo Caballero claiming that the publication of an editorial entitled, "We are Voting for Martin Burt" in support of an Asuncion mayoral candidate was a criminal act in violation of the Electoral Law. The magistrate based his decision on constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression. At dawn on September 18, unidentified gunmen shot up the editorial offices of ABC Color in Pedro Juan Caballero on the Brazilian border with automatic weapons. The attack was an obvious attempt to muzzle journalists working in this departmental capital. Newsroom editor Candido Figueredo lives on the premises, and maintains a permanent security guard because of previous threats from powerful Mafia groups operating in the zone. In this same city, on April 26, 1990, journalist Santiago Leguizamon was brutally murdered. The crime is still unpunished despite denunciations and testimonies now being presented to judicial and police authorities. On September 30, a joint judicial and police operation intercepted eight trucks filled with contraband Brazilian soft drinks. Gregorio Villalba, legal representative for the import firm, offered $3,000 to ABC Color correspondent Candido Figueredo to refrain from publishing information on the raid. The journalist and his assistant Cesar Dauzacker called Villalba to the newsroom, where the supposed bribe was received, but at the same time, the journalists had the transaction taped and photographed. The photographs and a transcript of the tape were later published in the newspaper as evidence of the attempt to buy off the correspondents. The journalists donated the $3,000 to the Pedro Juan Caballero Regional Hospital. On October 4, unidentified callers once again threatened ABC Color regional newsroom editor Hector Guerin in Ciudad del Este in an attempt to intimidate him. In less than two hours, Guerin received a number of anonymous telephone warnings that children's lives were in danger and that one of them would be kidnapped. Another anonymous telephone call to ABC Color headquarters in Asuncion asserted that one of Guarin's children had already been kidnapped. Guerin was publishing investigations about links between authorities in the zone assigned to combat piracy of industrial products and the bootleggers themselves. Finally, on March 11, Criminal Court Judge Ruben Dario Frutos dismissed the lawsuit against ABC Color journalist Mabel Rehnfeldt filed by the owner of a chain of service stations affected by her investigation on gasoline theft and its subsequent trafficking. The businessman sought a 12-month jail sentence for the journalist, but the judge praised the role of investigative reporting and deemed the free press to be a noble and altruistic mission protected by the constitution, the highest law in the land.