Report to the Midyear Meeting 2023
April, 25-27

During this period, various actions taken by the Public Prosecutor's Office (MP) and the prosecutor Cynthia Monterroso continued to degrade press freedom.

Monterroso said she felt harassed by elPeriódico's coverage of the José Rubén Zamora case and by the opinions of its columnists, which put her investigations at risk.

José Rubén Zamora, president of the newspaper, has been in custody since July. His trial continues in judicial lethargy, and the Public Prosecutor's Office continues to impose obstacles, most recently by ordering actions against Zamora's lawyers.

The Public Ministry captured Juan Francisco Solórzano Foppa on April 20 for hindering criminal proceedings in the Zamora case. Solórzano Foppa was Zamora's defense attorney after other attorneys handling the case were accused of other crimes and resigned to continue defending Zamora.

For the same crimes that captured Solórzano Foppa, arrest warrants were issued against Justino Brito Torres and Juan Carlos Marroquín Godoy (brother of Gonzalo Marroquín, former IAPA president).

Recently, José Rubén Zamora stopped having private defense lawyers because of the Public Ministry acts against them.

Solórzano Foppa tried to register as a candidate for mayor of Guatemala City, but the Supreme Electoral Tribunal rejected the registration.

The prosecutor asked Judge Jimi Brener to instruct the MP to investigate six journalists and two columnists of elPeriódico. The accused are editor Julia Corado, columnists Edgar Gutiérrez and Gonzalo Marroquín, and journalists Rony Ríos, Alexander Valdez, Cristian Velix, Denis Aguilar, and Gerson Ortiz.

Both Judge Brener and prosecutor Monterroso ignored the Constitution and the Law of Broadcasting of Thought, whose art. Forty-five states: "Publications containing denunciations, criticisms or imputations against public officials or employees for acts carried out in the exercise of their positions do not constitute a crime or misdemeanor."

The MP said the communicators incurred the crime of obstruction of justice as stipulated in the law against organized crime. The accused chose to leave the country for fear of the illegal investigation and possible arrest warrants.

The attacks on freedom of expression also reached the presidential candidate Edmond Mullet of the center-right, who filed a complaint to the MP for the actions against journalists and columnists. Prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche, Section Prosecutor of the Special Prosecutor's Office against Impunity (FECI), responded with a motion requesting the withdrawal of the pre-trial against the candidate, whom he accused of "conspiracy to obstruct justice."

In an interview with La Hora, prosecutor Curruchiche said: "All people can say whatever they want, but in this particular case, what I can say is that the politician should dedicate himself to politics."

In December, the Association of Journalists of Guatemala (APG) denounced judicial harassment as one of the leading causes of limitations to the press—the APG complaint about the prohibition for journalists to cover trials.

Journalist Juan Luis Font and CNN Spanish correspondent Michelle Mendoza left the country for fear of legal action against them.

Due to judicial harassment, many sources of information have been self-censored, among them several NGOs investigating human rights violations in the country.

On March 19, Eduardo Fernando Mendizábal Gálvez, who reported through the Facebook page "Visor Villa Canales," was murdered in the Colmenas village in Villa Canales, a municipality near Guatemala City.

Public opinion has succeeded against attempts to limit freedom of expression in the country, such as repealing the measure prohibiting press access to prosecutors' meetings with political parties.