The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is calling on Bolivian authorities to investigate attacks on radio stations after the third occurrence within two weeks.
The call comes after a 4:30am explosion on Tuesday at Radio Emisora Bolivia, a local station in a provincial capital, Oruro. The attack caused damage to the antenna and other equipment, totalling an estimated US$4,000. It suspended broadcasting and the director of the station, Félix Condori, is unsure of when they will be broadcasting again.
Carlos Lauria, CPJ’s senior coordinator for the Americas, said: “Authorities cannot allow violent actors to halt the flow of news and information.”
According to La Patria, the packaged dynamite also created damage to the building which also has offices set up for Movement Towards Socialism (MAS). This group was established and led by current president, Evo Morales. Minutes after the explosion, the counter-crime special forces (FELCC) unit arrived and confirmed that the equipment for the radio broadcasting centre had been the focus of the attack, not the MAS.
Although no one was injured in the explosion, it was the latest in a string of attacks suffered by media stations, dating back to 2008.
According to a 2007 CPJ special report, growing ethnic and class clashes raised tensions between the government and private media. The report quoted President Morales claiming that the “capitalist system is using the media against the government,
“Journalists sympathise with me,” he continued to tell the CPJ delegation, “but the media owners are aligned in a campaign against my government.”
Until now the details of the violence and reasons behind its persistence have remained unclear.
After Tuesday’s bombing, the director of Felcc, Héctor Favio Ríos Montaño, held a conference to express his concern. When asked whether the police had any leads, the director said they had nothing:
“We never thought that someone who would cause trouble would also leave a trace of identity, but we want to announce that there are interested in creating conflict and that is irresponsible.”