Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Dark Forces at Work

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Dark Forces at Work

Article excerpt

JosE RubEn Zamora, founder and editor of Guatemalan daily 'elPeriodico,' is attacked, threatened in his home

The last time we reported on JosE RubEn Zamora (E&P, Feb. 3, 2002, p.20), the Guatemalan government had moved a team of tax auditors into the offices of his national daily newspaper elPeriodico and a top official was appearing on TV to accuse the founder/editor of tax evasion and money laundering.

After outraged protests from international press-freedom groups, the tax auditors -- who spent some 50 days rummaging around elPeriodico's books -- finally left, and nothing ever came of the investigation.

But Zamora's life took a horrifying turn at around 8:30 on the morning of June 24 when a woman and 11 armed men, claiming to be investigators from the prosecutor's office, forced their way into his Guatemala City home. Zamora, his wife, three sons and domestic employees were bound and beaten by the men. The newspaper director and editor was stripped, blindfolded, separ- ated from his family and told, with a gun against his head, that he was going to be executed. For nearly three hours the gang commandeered the house, all the while appearing to be following orders relayed through their cell phones.

In an account the next day in his newspaper, Zamora said the gang warned him to "stop bothering the people above."

Zamora's ordeal came just one day after elPeriodico published the most recent in a series of investigative articles alleging that the civilian government of President Alfonso Portillo is actually run by a cabal of ex-military men that includes former dictator Gen. …

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