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    Repiglican Roast

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    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Monday, June 02, 2008

    Bolivia - Fresh upsurge of violence against journalists during Bolivian right's autonomy referendum

    At least two media were targeted for threats and harassment by groups
    linked to the opposition to the government in La Paz, including the Juvenil
    Crucenista Union (UJC), a radical militia that stemmed from the independence
    movement in Santa Cruz department.
    "Armed groups hostile to the government in La Paz are increasingly acting
    like predators on freedom of information," the worldwide press freedom
    organisation said. "The recent autonomy referendums - in Santa Cruz on 4 May
    and yesterday in the departments of Pando and Beni - are adding to a climate
    of political tension in which the press is one of the first to be targeted".
    Clashes between supporters and opponents of autonomy during the
    consultation process in Beni led to a variety of obstructions of the work of
    the press. In the department's capital, Trinidad, members of the UJC
    systematically harassed special correspondents for state-run Canal 7
    television.
    One of its journalists, René Martinez, said that the cables on its
    transmission vehicle were twice cut with machetes. "They managed to interrupt
    our programme twice this Sunday. Then as we were visiting schools for the vote
    count, the same youths insulted and threatened us", he said. "Our cameraman,
    Edgar Quenallata, had to leave and I was forced to flee on a motorbike", he
    told Reporters Without Borders.
    Meanwhile, in Riberalta, a group of pro-autonomy thugs chased after
    another team from Canal 7, forcing them to take refuge in the home of a local
    resident.
    Community, indigenous and peasant media, regularly targeted for racist
    violence by militia hostile to President Evo Morales, were not spared during
    the referendum violence in Beni. Gumersindo Yumani, of Coordinadora
    Audiovisual Indigena television was threatened in Nuevos Horizontes by
    militants of the Juvenil Riberaltena Union, a similar organisation to the UJC,
    who snatched his camera and handed it back with images deleted.
    Several other state media, considered close to the government, were
    harassed throughout the weekend, particularly the international TV Telesur,
    Canal Universitario de Trinidad, Televisisn Boliviana, Radio Patria Nueva, the
    Bolivian News Agency (ABI) and the specialised Cinematography, Education and
    Production Centre (CEFREC).

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