Reporters Without Borders is shocked to learn that local radio journalist Fausto Gabriel Alcaraz was gunned down by two individuals on a motorcycle in the eastern border city of Pedro Juan Caballero on 16 May. Alcaraz, who worked for Radio Amambay, was shot 11 times.
Senator Robert Acevedo, the station’s owner, said that Alcaraz had often accused people by name of involvement in regional drug trafficking in his radio programme.
“It is vital that this murder should not go unpunished, as is so often the case in Paraguay,” said Camille Soulier, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas desk.
“It must be thoroughly investigated in order to identify those responsible and the possibility of a link to the victim’s work must not be ruled out straight away. The situation of the people who worked with Alcaraz is also very worrying right now. We urge the authorities to give them protection.”
Alcaraz was the second journalist to be murdered in less than two years in Pedro Juan Caballero, the capital of Amambay department, which borders Brazil and is a major Southern Cone drug trafficking hub. There is tension between politicians and traffickers on both sides of the border and journalists often bear the brunt of the violence.
Marcelino Vásquez, the director of local radio Sin Fronteras, was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle in Pedro Juan Caballero on 6 February 2013. Radio Mburucuyá director Santiago Leguizamón was killed in a similar fashion in the city in 1991. None of these murders has been solved.
Ranked 105th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, Paraguay suffers from systematic impunity, which needs to be addressed rapidly. The need for a national protection mechanism for journalists in Paraguay was stressed in the annual report that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights published on 23 April.