State and Private Bolivian News Outlets Attacked

Demostrator gestures during a protest against Bolivia’s President Evo Morales in La Paz, Bolivia, November 9, 2019.   Photo: REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

HAVANA TIMES — Several news outlets in Bolivia were attacked or threatened and at least four had to temporarily cease broadcasting over the weekend, following weeks of uncertainty and protests over contested October 20 elections that led yesterday to President Evo Morales announcing his resignation.

“In this moment of political upheaval, it is absolutely vital that the people of Bolivia have access to a full range of information,” said Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Central and South America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick. “We call on all Bolivians to respect the right of the press to work safely and without interference to keep their fellow citizens informed.”

On November 9, anti-government demonstrators broke into the offices of the state-run outlets Bolivia TV and Radio Patria Nueva, in La Paz, forcing both stations to temporarily halt broadcasts and evacuate employees, according to news reports. Yesterday, outlets in La Paz, including the daily newspaper Página Siete and privately-owned television stations Televisión Universitaria (TVU) and Red UNO temporarily suspended operations after receiving threats, including at least one instance of people arriving at the TVU office and threatening to attack the station, according to news reports. On the same day, attackers burned a transmission station belonging to the privately owned broadcaster Unitel in the city of El Alto, and set fire to the La Paz home of TVU news anchor Casimira Lema, according to reports