IAPA condemns murder of journalist in Guatemala

Mario Ortega, director of the San José Total Channel 12 in the city of Escuintla

Miami (November 16, 2020).- The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) condemned the murder in Guatemala of journalist Mario Ortega, while asking the authorities to investigate quickly and in depth to find out the motives and point out those responsible.

The attack against Ortega, director of the San José Total Channel 12 television station, occurred on November 10 in the city of Escuintla, in the south-central part of the country. Two men on a motorcycle chased him and shot him several times in the face. He died four days later.

Jorge Canahuati, president of the IAPA, condemned the crime and expressed the solidarity of the organization with the journalist's relatives and colleagues. Canahuati, president of Grupo Opsa, San Pedro Sula, Honduras, urged the Public Prosecutor's Office, through its Office of Journalists and Human Rights Defenders, "to deepen the investigation of the murder to learn the truth and ensure that there is justice."

Carlos Jornet, president of the IAPA Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, joined in condemning the murder and urged the government "to advance in the establishment of guidelines for the Program for the Protection of Journalists, Communicators and the Media, taking in consideration the point of view of human rights organizations and journalists".

According to the Association of Journalists of Guatemala (APG), Ortega "have received multiple calls on his post and at his home demanding the payment of an extortion." The APG has registered an increase in attacks against journalists, 115 this year.

In Guatemala, Bryan Leonel Guerra, news anchor of the TL-COM cable system in Chiquimula, in the east of the country, was murdered on February 27. The report on freedom of the press in Guatemala, presented at the IAPA general assembly in October, underlined: "In the provinces, many journalists face aggressions and are threatened and limited by local authorities or the region's mafias."

IAPA is a non-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 the western hemisphere; and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.