Hernán Choquepata Ordoñez, Peruvian journalist from La Ribereña radio station, was broadcasting music for his program “Habla el pueblo” (“The town speaks”) when unidentified men entered the booth and gave him a beating that ended up taking his life on Nov. 20, reported newspaper La República.
— El Comercio (@elcomercio) November 21, 2016
‘Randy,” as the host was known, worked for the radio station in the province of Camaná in the department of Arequipa for two years, La República added. In his program, he used to criticize the local authorities and investment in works in the area, according to El Búho.
According to La República, it is believed that the attackers knew that the journalist was alone and took advance of the right moment to attack him, because the journalist did not reach for help using the microphone and the music continued to play.
The journalist was found on the programming console with his head shattered, the paper added. According to El Comercio, the journalist was transferred to a medical center, but was referred to a second hospital due to the seriousness of his injuries. However, he was dead upon arrived to the second location.
The equipment at the station also was destroyed by the same people who killed the journalist, but nothing was stolen, Diario Correo reported.
Although authorities are still investigating the motives of the crime, some journalists suspect that this is retaliation for Choquetapa Ordoñez’s work. According to the president of the United Center of Journalists of Camaná, Jorge Gamez, the inquiries of journalists in the region indicate that several communicators of La Ribereña have critical positions toward the authorities, according to El Comercio.
Additionally, El Comercio added that journalists from La Ribereña had reported receiving death threats for more than a month and had requested that the police identify those behind the threats.
The National Association of Journalists (ANP for its acronym in Spanish) of Peru condemned the murder and demanded that the authorities “quickly investigate what happened and demand that they consider the professional motive as a priority,” according to a statement from the organization. For ANP, this attack aimed to “silence and uncomfortable voice in the province.”
ANP highlighted the journalist’s work that was critical of authorities, as well as his “high sense of solidarity” recognized by the less-favored sectors of the region. The organization also called on the Minister of the Interior “to deploy its best troops to resolve this crime promptly” especially because of the chilling effect that it has on other journalists.
“After an event like this, fear is usually installed among those who uncover corruption events when they find that they can be the object of the most violent reprisals for their informative work,” the ANP said.
Choquepata Ordoñez, 45, was married and had two young children, Diario Correo reported.
Deadly violence against journalists in Peru is not very common. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, there have been eight murders recorded in that country since 1992 in which the death was related to the journalist’s work. The last was in 2008. However, it recorded the murder of seven other journalists in the country in which motives are not clear, including the cases of Fernando Raymondi in 2014 and Luis Choy in 2013.
However, in 2014, organizations like the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) and the Peruvian Press Council (CPP) warned of the increase in violence and attacks against journalists in the country. Also that year, a report from the National Human Rights Office of the ANP stated that a journalist in Peru is a victim of attacks, threats and /or judicial prosecution every four days
Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.