Journalist Set on Fire While Broadcasting Live in Bolivia
The shocking attack against a radio host on Monday, October 29 illustrates the hostile climate for journalists in Bolivia and the dire need for journalist protections. Freedom House urges the Bolivian government to conduct a swift and thorough investigation into the incident in order to bring the perpetrators to justice.
According to various media sources, Fernando Vidal, owner and editor of Radio Popular in Yacuiba, was conducting a live interview on drug smuggling when four masked men entered the premises, threw gasoline onto the journalist and the station equipment, and lit a fire. Vidal, who remains in critical condition, is well known for denouncing corruption and criminal activities in the province of Gran Chaco.
“This dreadful assault highlights the failure of the Bolivian government to adequately protect journalists,” said Viviana Giacaman, director for Latin America programs at Freedom House. “We call on the authorities take immediate action to prevent further violence and ensure journalists’ safety.”
Freedom House is deeply concerned about the spike in violence against journalists and critical media in Bolivia. This is the fourth radio station brutally attacked in the past five months. Bolivia is ranked Partly Free in the Freedom in the World 2012, Freedom House's annual survey of political rights and civil liberties, and was also classified as Partly Free in the 2012 edition of Freedom of the Press.
Freedom in the World 2012: Bolivia
Freedom of the Press 2012: Bolivia
Blog: Freedom at Issue