Fabián Salazar, journalist
By Mary W Maxwell
Gumshoe editor Dee McLachlan and I were floored by the mass of salient comments sent by readers, in response to her recent articles on the media. In due course I’ll catalogue some of the comments and present them as an article, to make them accessible by Gumshoe’s search engine. (The search engine finds things that appear in our articles, but not in comments.)
At the same time we noticed, and no doubt you noticed, the outpouring of emotion on the subject of media. It’s true that we ‘re often harsh to ABC and the MSM (or should we say “the MSM including the ABC”). Our readers are harsher still!
The Happier Side
Anyway, there will always be good journalists. Think about this: whatever we smarty-pants all know today about government corruption is stuff that somebody bothered to investigate and print. This system actually works!
As Shakespeare wrote, in The Merchant of Venice: “Truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long … at the length truth will out.” Presumably that is true across cultures, because human beings do want to know what’s going on.
I print below a letter written by a New York group, the Committee to Protect Journalists. You may think it is out of date (written 16 years ago) but it is unfortunately still current.
Note how standard the routine is:
- Government misbehaves (e.g., knocks down a tower or two)
(Dee says “or three’)
- Mainstream media won’t touch it with a 40-kilometer barge pole
- Some persons feel they just have to sleuth the situation.
- An insider decides to risk all and goes to that independent journalist to give him/her the real dirt
- It’s blood-on-the-floor city after that.
Letter Dated May 26, 2000
His Excellency Alberto K. Fujimori
President of the Republic of Peru
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply disturbed by the kidnapping and torture of journalist Fabián Salazar Olivares. Salazar was attacked and brutally tortured on May 24, just after receiving materials with allegedly damaging information about high-level officials from Your Excellency’s administration….
Salazar, a former executive at the television station Frecuencia Latina-Canal 2, and currently a columnist with the Lima-based daily La República, believes the people who attacked and tortured him were government agents. He said he has been under constant surveillance and has been receiving threats for two years.
On May 24, according to Salazar’s testimony, he received five videos, three diskettes, and a folder from a source close to the National Intelligence Service (SIN). The videos show Vladimiro Montesinos, a close adviser to Your Excellency and head of the SIN, meeting with the heads of the National Elections Jury (JNE) and the National Electoral Processes Office (ONPE).
The folder also contained documents handwritten by Montesinos, and a notebook with information compiled since 1996 on Baruch Ivcher. In 1997, Ivcher, who was born in Israel, was stripped of his Peruvian citizenship, and, as a result, also of his right to own television station Frecuencia Latina-Canal 2. The action against Ivcher took place after the television station aired damaging investigative reports about the SIN.
After receiving the information, Salazar called his secretary from his office and asked her to accompany him to the offices of the election observer team of the Organization of American States.
Within ten minutes of the call, at around 7 p.m., a man knocked on the door of his office in downtown Lima. When Salazar opened the door, the man and three accomplices forced him to sit on a chair.
They wrapped adhesive tape around his mouth, his eyes, and his feet, and beat him. Then, they interrogated him, demanding that he disclose the source of his material. To make him speak, they cut his wrist with a saw down to the bone. During the attack the assailants spoke to people over a radio.
At some point the attackers fled, apparently because the building security had called for help. Before fleeing, though, they tore up the office and set it on fire. Salazar was able to crawl out of his office and escape the flames….
We call on Your Excellency to conduct a full investigation into the attack, and to ensure that the perpetrators are punished to the full extent of the law.
Ann K. Cooper
Executive Director, Committee To Protect Journalists
Is This Routine Fixable?
Isn’t it odd that the very person Ms Cooper had to write to is the very person who caused the problem? This is the crux of the matter isn’t it? The “government” is the authority. When it behaves criminally – to say again, when it knocks down some towers – we humbly ask it to impose the law.
Ahem. Not really a goer, is it? As I said, that Peruvian letter dates back 16 years, but still sounds current. Yet a new layer of silencing has been added. Recall the 2015 “anti-terrorism” laws (can you imagine) that make it a jailable offense for writers to report crime by government if it be a “special operation.”
Um, isn’t it the case that criminality by government is inherently “special”?
If you can suggest any ways around this ridiculous arrangement, Gumshoe would appreciate hearing it.
— Mary W Maxwell is the author of Prosecution for Treason, and a book about cancer politics entitled Consider the Lilies.
Adapted photo from http://www.caretas.com.pe/