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Serious vandalism directed against journalist

(Periodistas/IFEX) - On 5 January 1999, several unknown individuals found
their way onto the property of Bernardo Balbuena, editor of the daily "El
Diario de Resistencia", in the province of Chaco, and smashed an automobile
belonging to him. Balbuena lives in the city of Corrientes (in northeastern
Argentina, close to Resistencia), in an apartment protected by an iron gate
2.3 meters high. At approximately 3:30 a.m. (local time), the unknown
vandals jumped over the gate and went to the front of Balbuena's home where
his vehicle was located. Using a blunt object, the assailants broke the
windshield, doors, fender and hood of the car. The vandals also wrote
obscene phrases on the hood using a sharp object. While the car was being
destroyed, a few short metres away Balbuena was home with his wife and

The following morning, Balbuena contacted police to report the vandalism.
"The experts sent by the police ruled out robbery as a motive since the car
was never broken into, in spite of the fact that there were valuable objects
visible in the interior of the car, such as a cassette player," the
journalist explained. Three days prior to this attack, there was strange
activity reported at another of Balbuena's apartments, located in Paso de La
Patria. None of these incidents have been resolved.

According to what Periodistas learned from Balbuena, the vandalism at his
home was motivated by the fact that his newspaper had "continually published
in the preceding days [news of] the illegal enrichment of (Raúl) Romero
Feris." Romero Feris, the current mayor of Corrientes, is also the owner of
the newspaper "Norte de Resistencia". According to information that has
appeared in "El Diario," Feris is the prime player in the newspaper market
in the province of Chaco. Balbuena stated that there was no clear evidence
to attribute responsibility for the vandalism to any named individual,
however, he does not rule out the possibility that individuals may exist who
wish to eliminate him from the newspaper market in the region.

Background Information

The attack in front of his home is not the first incident of aggression
directed against Balbuena. On 6 March 1998, the journalist saw another of
his cars destroyed by fire, in a case of arson by unknown individuals which
took place at the garage of a newspaper in the city of Resistencia.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to the editor of "El Diario":
  • expressing support and solidarity

    Appeals To

    Mr. Bernardo Balbuena
    Editor of "El Diario"
    Chaco, Argentina
    Fax/Tel: + 54 722 33556 / 41005 /41006 / 33776

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

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