Guatemala City (January 25, 2024) - A joint mission of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is visiting Guatemala City this week to assess press freedom conditions in the country following the inauguration of President Bernardo Arévalo.
The delegation, led by IAPA President Roberto Rock and CPJ Program Director Carlos Martínez de la Serna, will meet with President Arévalo this afternoon at the National Palace of Culture. The delegation also includes other IAPA authorities, including First Vice President José Roberto Dutriz, Executive Committee President Gabriela Vivanco, and Executive Director Carlos Lauría.
The main goal of the mission is to address the difficult situation and numerous challenges faced by Guatemalan journalists. The delegation will have meetings with representatives of local media, Interior Minister Francisco Jiménez, and the president of the Supreme Court of Justice Oscar Cruz Oliva. The mission also plans to visit José Rubén Zamora, president, and founder of elPeriódico, who has been imprisoned since July 2022 in retaliation for his investigative journalistic work.
Last October, the IAPA expressed satisfaction with the decision of the Second Court of Appeals of Guatemala to annul Zamora's six-year prison sentence and order a new trial, which is set to begin on February 5. CPJ urged Guatemalan authorities to respect Zamora's right to a fair trial in his new process. Due to political and economic pressures, elPeriódico ceased its operations on May 15, 2023.
Both the IAPA and the CPJ, along with other international organizations, have documented the persecution of critical journalists by the Public Ministry (MP) and the Special Prosecutor's Office against Impunity. In addition to Zamora's imprisonment, this situation has forced a group of journalists to flee the country out of fear of reprisals and arbitrary detentions.
The MP has accused six journalists and three columnists from elPeriódico of obstructing justice by expressing opinions on the case, including former IAPA President Gonzalo Marroquín Godoy, who is José Rubén Zamora's cousin. On January 8, a judge closed the criminal case and transferred it to a Printing Tribunal, which was appealed by the Public Ministry.
IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending and promoting freedom of the press and expression in the Americas. It comprises more than 1,300 publications from the western hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.
CPJ is an independent, non-profit organization that works to safeguard press freedom around the world.