This Is the Last Article, and We’re Leaving…

El Periodico de Guatemala ceases publication.

With its founder and director Jose Ruben Zamora in jail, elPeriodico de Guatemala says goodbye.

By Edgar Gutierrez (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – With the detention of Jose Rubén Zamora on July 29, 2022, the Giammattei regime launched the machinery to annihilate ‘elPeriódico’. In his calculations the newspaper would not survive even three months.

The first flank of attack —once Zamora’s arrest was consummated— was the financial. The embargo of bank accounts on critical days of salary payments and those to creditors worsened the destabilization of the newspaper. At the same time, it cast a shadow of criminalization of the sources of publicity and the contributions of businesspeople for the survival of the media; the obstruction of cash flows was guaranteed.

The arrest, three weeks later, of the financial director, Flora Silvia, gave another twist to the suffocation.

Stubborn, the ‘elPeriódico’ team continued with the investigation coverage of serious cases of corruption, abuse, and impunity of the regime, while launching an S.O.S. to the community of readers to stay afloat on a subscription basis. The campaign was only relatively successful.

The diary barely survived. In November, it was forced to lay off more than 70% of the staff and suspend the print edition, including its famous ‘Sunday’ edition, which drew a large community of loyal readers. As in the dictatorships of Nicaragua and Venezuela, Guatemala thus headed for the devastation of the independent written press.

On February 28, 2023, the judicial siege of the regime continued. The director, the editor-in-chief, four reporters and three columnists were accused of obstructing justice through news coverage and the free broadcast of thought.

Describing proceedings in the courts and freely expressing their opinion on political events acquired the category of crime for certain prosecutors and judges, turning constitutional guarantees into a dead letter without remedy. And it is not just any crime, but one designed for it to fit in as acts of organized crime. So serious as to condemn any independent journalist, not just those of this newspaper, to rot in the dungeon.

Harassed, watched, and rabidly slandered by the Giammattei regime and its para-judicial instruments, the ‘elPeriódico’ community continued to denounce and comment without censorship to prevent barbarism from establishing its dictatorship and being normalized as the dark room of torture.

But when predatory regimes like Giammattei’s smell blood, they go uncontrollably mad and ignore any limits of political persecution. They do not differentiate the dissident from their family, and for their purposes of defeating and exhausting those they consider to be enemies, they do not hesitate to torment and kidnap innocent civilians.

The irony is that the jaws of the corporate dictatorship against freedom of expression are insatiably exposed halfway through the event scheduled every four years to certify that democracy still breathes in the abandoned emergency room.

And what about the freedom to choose and be elected? Another kidnapped freedom. Right now, they are patting the heads of the people. Candidates who do not fit into the dictatorship’s plan will continue to be left out.

I doubt that election observation missions are unaware of this situation. Thus, the next regime will continue to violate freedoms breached in the last four years. Dictatorships do not support uncomfortable witnesses who expose the sumptuous decadence of the rulers.

From what has been said above, elPeriodico withdraws. This is the last article, and we’re leaving…

*Article originally published in the Guatemalan Newspaper.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times