International press freedom organizations are calling for swift and transparent investigations into the recent murders of a print journalist and a radio station employee in Guatemala. The country has a history where murders and violence go unsolved.
The bodies of Laurent Angel Castillo Cifuentes and Luis Alfredo de Leon Miranda were discovered in a field outside of Santo Domingo, the Center to Protect Journalists reported. The two victims had their hands and feet tied; both were shot in the head.
“The murders of Laurent Ángel Castillo Cifuentes and Luis Alfredo de León Miranda only further chill the climate for press freedom in Guatemala, where journalists work with constant fear of intimidation and violence,” Joel Simon, the executive director for CPJ said in a prepared statement. “The Guatemalan government must conduct a comprehensive investigation into these killings, and must follow through on its promises to protect journalists and ensure they can work safely throughout the country.”
The two men left on January 28 to cover a carnival in Mazatenango but never returned. Castillo was described as a 28-year-old reporter who covered sports and culture for Nuestro Diario in Coatepeque. De Leon, described as a 30-year old publicist for a local radio station who simply traveled with his friend to the carnival.
The region where the victims lived and worked is close to the border with Mexico and, according to CPJ, suffers a considerable amount of drug-related violence.
Jorge Mario Garcia, the Editor for Nuestro Diario told the Committee to Protect Journalists that he did not believe his reporter had received any threats. The editor did tell the CPJ that journalists in the area often resort to self-censorship as a way to avoid retaliation. The Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre reported that Castillo changed his number after received threatening calls trying to extort him.
According to CPJ, the Guatemalan Government promised to create plans to protect journalists none have been implemented.
The UT Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas also called for attention to the matter citing more than 10 murders in as many years in the area. On January 13, Guatemalan authorities arrested Congressman Juan Antonio Juarez Ramirez after accusing him of being the mastermind behind the murder of two reporters in 2015. In that case, a team of gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed Daniel Zapon Lopez from Prensa Libre and Federico Salazar from Radio Nuevo Mundo outside of a government building.
Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and Stephen K. Bannon. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at Iortiz@breitbart.com.
Brandon Darby is managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and Stephen K. Bannon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.