Two journalists found murdered in southwestern Guatemala

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Guatemalan authorities to lose no time in investigating the murders of two journalists, Laurent Castillo and Luis Alfredo de León, whose bodies were found yesterday in the southwestern department of Suchitepéquez

Both journalists were based in Coatepeque, where Castillo was a reporter for the Nuestro Diario newspaper and De León worked for Radio Coatepeque.

They left Coatepeque together to cover a carnival event in Mazatenango, the capital of the nearby department of Suchitepéquez, according to local press reports.

Farmers found their bodies yesterday in a sugarcane field near Santo Domingo, a small town 8 km south of Mazatenango. Their hands were tied and both had been shot in the head. The motive for this double murder is not yet known.

The Prensa Libre newspaper quoted a source close to the Castillo family as saying he had recently changed his phone number after receiving many calls trying to extort money from him. He covered mainly sports and cultural events.

We urge the authorities to conduct an exhaustive investigation and to not rule out the possibility that the motive was linked to the victims’ work as journalists,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America bureau.

Guatemala is a country marked by violence and its media are particularly vulnerable. The creation of a national mechanism for protecting journalists, which we have been requesting for several years, should be a priority for the government.

Two journalists, Danilo Lopez and Federico Salazar, were murdered in the same region in 2015. A parliamentarian, Julio Juárez, is currently being held on suspicion of instigating their murders.

Guatemala is ranked 118th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

Published on
Updated on 02.02.2018