Photo: Bolivian Radio Presenter Fernando Vidal Set On Fire While on the Air
Anyone listening to radio presenter Fernando Vidal on Bolivia’s Radio Popular station on Monday may have heard the gruesome attack against him.
Vidal, 78, and studio technician Karen Anza are both recovering from injuries incurred when four men stormed into the radio studio. The unidentified men poured gasoline on Vidal and set him on fire with some witnesses saying they also threw Molotov cocktails.
The radio presenter is a vocal critic of provincial government and was reporting on smuggling at the Bolivia-Argentina border, particularly smuggling of liquid petroleum gas. He was speaking on the topic when the attack began.
The attack took place in Yacuiba, which is less than two miles north of the Argentina border.
Vidal’s son-in-law, Esteban Farfan, says the radio host suffered burns to his face, arms, and chest.
Farfan says he and other believe the attack to be politically motivated though police have yet to comment on a motive.
The interior ministry of Bolivia has said there will be an “accelerated and rigorous investigation.”
So far, three people have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the attack.
“This chilling attack is one of the worst instances of violence against journalists in Bolivia in recent years,” said Javier Zúñiga, Special Adviser to Amnesty International.
“The Bolivian authorities’ investigation into the incident must be independent and impartial and those responsible must be brought to justice without delay.”
“The recent Plurinational Constitutional Court decision to strike contempt from the country’s Criminal Code is a positive step, but yesterday’s attack show that freedom of expression – including freedom of the press – remains under attack in Bolivia.”