Report to the Midyear Meeting
April, 20-23

During this period the greatest threats to freedom of the press were the aggressions, restrictions and threats against journalists that came from the public authorities and other social sectors - as well as through anonymous accounts on social networks. A journalist was assassinated.

Political party leaders in Congress attempted to create a National Office of Access to Public Information, which would put at risk the access that currently exists by compromising autonomy - since those in charge of the office could be appointed or removed by a simple majority in Congress. The initiative did not prosper due to complaints from various sectors.

During the demonstrations against the approval of the 2021 budget, the National Civil Police used tear gas against demonstrators at the Plaza de la Constitución, attacked journalists - among them, photographer Carlos Sebastián, reporter Andrea Domínguez, from Guatevisión news program - and arrested documentary filmmaker Melissa Mencos, who was later released.

After the brutal attack against Sebastián, more than 100 journalists published a statement in which they demanded the government to stop intimidating the press.

During the protests on November 28, groups of hooded individuals attacked journalists Felipe Garrán, Élmer Vargas, Pablo Juárez and Fernando Cabrera, from Guatevisión and Prensa Libre; Oscar Rivas, from Nuestro Diario; Roberto Cabrera, from the radio station Federación Guatemalteca de Escuelas Radiofónicas (FGER), and Jovanna García, from the magazine Ruda.

Other aggressions involved Alvaro Josué Santos – reporter for TV Azteca Guate – who was attacked by a neighbor while reporting on a fire. The incident is being investigated by the Human Rights Ombudsman's Office. Three police officers were temporarily suspended for failing to act on the incident.

On December 8, journalists Sonny Figueroa and Marvin Del Cid denounced on social networks that they had been threatened by unknown persons who left a note with letters cut out of magazines with the message: "Marvin and Sonny, stop investigating and publishing crap or else."

On November 10, Mario Ortega, founder and director of San José Total Channel 12, in Escuintla, suffered an attack outside his home, in the city of San José, in the department of Escuintla. He passed away two days later from his injuries. He worked as a reporter and covered local social and political issues. According to his family, he had received threats.

In November elPeriódico denounced that its director, Julia Corado, received threats for her reporting on government corruption, on the case of Alba Lorenzana (wife of Ángel González, owner of the four open television channels and a cable channel), and on cases of corruption reported by CICIG regarding former governors Otto Pérez Molina and Roxanna Baldetti - who are in pre-trial detention.

The president of elPeriódico, José Rubén Zamora, was attacked for several days in Albavisión - one of Gónzalez's channels.

The Guatemalan Association of Journalists (APG) denounced that many journalists have been attacked anonymously via social networks. It also denounced restrictions to journalists' access to the swearing in of the new members of the Constitutional Court.

In April the APG registered 124 aggressions against journalists - during the first 11 months of President Alejandro Giammattei's government. The complaints registered are for "obstruction of sources," with 31 cases. Twenty journalists reported having been subjected to "intimidation and pressure" and 19 have received "threats".

At least four journalists died as a result of Covid-19.