By Megan Smith*
Nixon Solórzano Bernales, host of a TV program dedicated to informing citizens of public safety issues in the Cajamarca region of northern Peru, was attacked and stabbed as he left the television station on Jan. 14, according to the Press and Society Institute (or IPYS in Spanish).
According to IFEX, Bernales said the attacker -- who he identified as Segundo Bueno Bardales -- waited until the program finished, then assaulted him with a kitchen knife. Barnales suffered a significant cut to his abdomen region that required 50 stitches.
Bernales, host of Channel 25’s “Citizen Alert,” believes that the attack was an act of retaliation against him, after he denounced Bardales on his program for being involved with a family violence case.
The Cajamarca region is currently tied with Lima, the capital of the country, as the most dangerous place in Peru for journalists, according to a 2012 IPYS report. The organization noted 18 documented attacks against the press in Cajamarca and 16 more in Lambayeque, also in Northern Peru.
“With this, the north of the country has become the most dangerous area for the free press in Peru,” IPYS said.
The number of attacks against journalists in the Cajamarca region has increased over the past two years, according to IPYS. Many attribute these rising numbers to the coverage of the controversial Conga mining project that has caused conflict in the area over the past couple of years. The project, which would create Peru’s largest open-pit gold mine, would also destroy four mountain lakes in the process, causing outrage among local farmers. Protests have become increasingly violent, as has the atmosphere for journalists covering the issue.
IPYS documented a total of 95 attacks against the press in the country over the past year. The Office of the Human Rights of Journalists at the Peruvian National Association of Journalists reported an even higher number, documenting 136 attacks and hostilities in 2012.
IPYS requested that Peruvian authorities take proper precautions to ensure that there are no further attacks on Bernales, a thorough police investigation is conducted and that the offender, who has been released by order of the prosecutor, be punished accordingly.
* Megan Smith is a student in the class "Journalism Latin America" at the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.
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.