Reporters Without Borders voices its support for Hernán Lascano, the Rosario-based La Capital newspaper’s crime reporter, who has been getting threatening messages since 2010 in connection with his coverage of a major drug-trafficking case and got a new, particularly disturbing message during the last week of March mentioning his daughter and his daily movements.
Local sources told Reporters Without Borders that other journalists in Rosario, in the central province of Santa Fe, have been covering the case but only Lascano seems to have been receiving anonymous threatening messages.
“The Santa Fe province authorities have appreciated the gravity of this situation,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We hail the response of provincial governor Antonio Bonfetti and Rosario mayor Mónica Fein in personally meeting with Lascano on 3 April to offer him and his family all possible means of protection.
“Lascano is also receiving the support of the Rosario Press Union. All these gestures are vital, but will they be enough to stop the threats? We offer Lascano our additional support, and at the same time we hope that the police, who are investigating the threats, quickly identify who is behind them.”
The threats that Lascano has been receiving since 2010 – initially sent to his personal email address – have alluded directly to his coverage of a case in which a certain Mario Roberto Segovia was arrested in 2008 in connection with an intercepted consignment of 300 kg of ephedrine bound for Mexico hidden in packets of sugar.
Lascano did not at first report the threats to the police because he thought they posed a “limited danger.” These anonymous messages continued until October 2011.
He received the latest threat on 26 October, three days before Segovia was sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of contraband, using false customs papers and endangering public health. It came in the form of a written letter with no mention of a sender that was received by neighbour. It detailed aspects of his private life and said: “You will understand what it is to lose.” La Capital filed a formal complaint about the threat with the prosecutor’s office.
Although less so than their colleagues in nearby countries, Argentine journalists are also exposed to threats from drug traffickers, especial in the border provinces. Drug cartels, paramilitary groups financed by drug traffickers and other criminal organizations nowadays represent the main source of physical dangers to journalists worldwide.