Listening Post
Guatemala: A new era of security?
For Guatemala's journalists working often means putting their own lives on the line, but their situation might change.
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2012 10:21

For journalists in the Central American nation of Guatemala, working in a country that has dealt with so much bloodshed has all too often meant putting their own lives on the line. During the country's civil war, many journalists vanished from newsrooms only to be found in morgues.

That war has ended and the dangers to Guatemalan journalists have changed: there are threats from drug gangs who have moved in from neighbouring Mexico, organised crime mobs have silenced many reporters and vigilante security groups out to enforce order are also proving problematic to report on.

The Listening Post's Marcela Pizarro speaks to people on both sides of Guatemala's media story - from Lucia Escobar, a journalist who has been forced to go into hiding after publishing a story, to the country's new president, Otto Perez Molina, who has promised an era of security for journalists in the country, saying: "We will not permit the persecution of journalists... We are going to respect the media because it also strengthens democracy and the country's institutions."

And whether the new president means what he says or not - in a country where the army and the national police are often complicit in the drug wars themselves and where the lines of allegiance are constantly in flux - telling the story has become a very slippery business.

"The country is very unstable. There is no defined power structure. It's not like the past where you had a military versus subversion and you knew who the good guys and the bad guys, whatever you wanted to call them. It's difficult to know where you are in relationship to the power structures in Guatemala because not all of them are visible."

Barbara Schieber, The Guatemala Times

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