Freedom of Expression


           Threats and attacks


            35.       On January 21, 2003, photojournalist Jorge Landaeta, of the newspaper Los Tiempos, and journalist Javier Alanoca, of Radio Fides, were victims of an attack by a police officer when they were covering a demonstration.[1]  The next day, Bolivian press workers organized a protest against these attacks in Plaza Murillo, in La Paz, which was dispersed by the police by the use of beatings and tear gas.  Due to the social situation, Plaza Murillo was considered by the state security agencies as a security area to which no individual or entity was allowed access for the purpose of any social protest.  Days later, when the organizations and institutions of press workers from all over Boliviaannounced a march for January 31, to protest the alleged meddling in and political pressures brought to bear on the media, government officials announced that the demonstration would be allowed.


            36.       On February 12, 2003, cameraman Toribio Kanki of UNITEL was wounded by a bullet in the right ankle while filming a public demonstration.  During the same events, journalist Gonzalo Rivera, also of UNITEL, was beaten and kicked by civilians who tried to take away his equipment. Channels Siete and Bolivisión interrupted their broadcasts until the next day to guarantee the security of their facilities and staff.[2]  On February 13, 2003, photographer Juan José Torrejón of La Prensa was injured when the lid of a tear gas canister hit his leg.[3]


            37.       In September and October, 2003, the city of El Alto, in the department of La Paz, was the scene of many demonstrations.  According to the information received by the Office of the Special Rapporteur, over several weeks, several journalists who sought to cover these demonstrations were subject to attacks by demonstrators, leading the newspaper La Razón to decide to stop covering the demonstrations in El Alto.[4]  The demonstrations grew more intense as of October 11, resulting in more than 70 persons killed and 200 injured. In this context, on October 15, the broadcast facilities of Radio Pío XII and Canal 13 Universitaria de Televisión, located in Oruro, south of La Paz, were the target of an attack using explosives that impeded both from continuing to broadcast. This incident led the Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression to issue a press release.[5]  The Red Educación Radiofónica de Bolivia (Red ERBOL), which includes Radio Pío XII, was said to have received several threats against its journalists prior to the attack.[6]  That same day, Eduardo Pinzón, a cameraman with Radio Televisión Española, was attacked by sympathizers of the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), and Canal 36-Cadena A de Televisión and Radio Televisión Popular also suspended their broadcasts for several hours after having received threats.[7]

[1] Journalists against Corruption (Periodistas Frente a la Corrupción, PFC), January 23, www.pfc.or; El Deber (Bolivia) <>, February 12, 2003.

[2] International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), February 14, 2003,

[3] International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), February 17, 2003.

[4] Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS) September 24, 2003,

[5] Press Release from the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression 93/03

[6] AMARC, October 16, 2003.

[7] Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), October 17, 2003,