Reporters Without Borders, an international organization dedicated to press freedom, issued a report yesterday raising alarm over attacks on reporters covering recent demonstrations in El Salvador:
Reporters Without Borders today condemned attacks by demonstrators on a total of 13 journalists during protests against public transport and electricity price increases that shook the country from 4 to 7 July. The press freedom organisation voiced solidarity with the Association of El Salvador Journalists (APES), which issued a report on the attacks.
"These events have revealed an alarming hostility felt by part of the population towards the media," Reporters Without Borders said. "We appeal to the leaders of student movements and opposition parties to ensure respect for the principle of press freedom withing their ranks and we support the call by the APES for tolerance and respect for the work of journalists."
Reporters Without Borders added: "The validity of a cause does not give its supporters the right to stigmatize the press on the alleged grounds that it does not give enough space to their cause."
The first attacks took place near the El Salvador university campus on 5 July. Iván Pérez of Radio YSUCA was accosted and insulted while Ernesto Landos of the Teledos TV station was chased by a group of demonstrators who smashed the windscreen of his car. El Diário de Hoy newspaper photographer Felipe Ayala had his camera snatched from him and later returned without the memory card containing the shots he taken. A group of students also assaulted Carlos Henráquez, the correspondent of La Prensa Gráfica, a daily newspaper based in the western city of Santa Ana.
There was more violence against journalists at roadblocks erected on the outskirts of the capital on 7 July by supporters of the Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation (FMLN), the former guerrilla alliance that is now an opposition party. Luis Ever Fernández of the Canal 6 television station was badly beaten inside his vehicle by protesters who tried to eject him until a parliamentarian who was present intervened. At another roadblock, demonstrators used paint to daub the vehicle being used by Julio Rosales of Canal 6. (more)