Radio FM Cerrillos, a local station based in San José de los Cerrillos, in the northern province of Salta, has been off the air since 2 a.m. on 24 August, when unidentified attackers stole its 300-watt transmitter and set fire to its studios, located beside the home of its director, Carlos Villanueva.
The fire destroyed Villanueva’s garage and part of his house, as well as the radio station. Villanueva’s son Enzo had to be hospitalised with burns and smoke inhalation after trying to put out the blaze. His condition is stable.
“We express our solidarity with the Villanueva family and FM Cerrillos’ employees while we await a final estimate of the damages sustained by the radio station,” Reporters Without Borders said. “As well as the station’s reconstruction, we stress the need to neglect no hypothesis in the investigation into the motives and identity of those responsible for the attack.”
The press freedom organisation added: “The investigation must not ignore the serious conflict that exists between the radio station and the municipal authorities even we cannot say more about this conflict for the time being. Villanueva and his family must also be given the required protection.”
According to the Forum of Argentine Journalism (FOPEA), Villanueva told regional news media he was convinced that the attack was an act of political revenge by San José de los Cerrillos mayor Rubén Corimayo, whom he had accused of mismanagement. Corimayo has meanwhile publicly condemned the attack on FM Cerrillos and has denied any involvement.
Villanueva has provisionally estimated the losses at 65,000 pesos (13,000 euros). Around 200 people demonstrated yesterday evening in support of Villanueva.
(Photo : El Nuevo Diario de Salta)