A journalist was attacked and threatened at gun point by the mayor of the town of Sancti Spiritu, in the province of Santa Fe, on Tuesday.
The director of local radio station FM Uno, Hernán García, denounced that the mayor of Sancti Spiritu, Abel Fontela, arranged to meet him on a road outside of town on Tuesday at around 7.35pm. There, Fontela allegedly assaulted García, by pulling him out of his car and putting a .22 caliber gun in his mouth as he threatened to kill him. Fontela also hit him in the face.
García managed to escape, but had to leave his car behind. He ran 4km to the nearest town, where he contacted the police, and then went back to pick up his car, as well as a recording of the incident which he uploaded on to the radio’s website. The journalist said that Fontela called the Sancti Spiritu police station that night, and told them to ignore García if he attempted to report the incident.
The police searched the scene the following day, and a judge from nearby Rufino issued a search warrant for the mayor’s house, however the weapon was not found.
Despite the recorded evidence, the mayor has denied García’s accusations. On a radio interview with a station from Rufino, he told a journalist: “I have no idea what you’re talking about, and don’t know anything. If you have better information, let me know.” When the radio host mentioned Garcia’s recording of the incident, Fontela said he was not aware of such a recording, and ended the conversation abruptly.
The Argentine Forum for Journalism (FOPEA) has condemned the attack, which they believe may have been a result of the constant demands for transparency García makes Fontela on his radio show ‘Informal Mornings.’ Fontela participated on the show last week, where he had an intense discussion with García.
Sancti Spiritu is a small town in the south of Santa Fe, 200km away from Rosario. Fontela, from the local Unión Vecinal party, was elected mayor in 2009 and reelected in 2011. García said of the mayor: “he’s a person who never had political participation and didn’t even live in Sancti Spiritu. He became known during the campo conflict because he is part of the Agrarian Federation and had an active participation during the pickets against resolution 125.”