A Dominican Journalist Fears for His Life
In recent months, a number of journalists in the Dominican Republic have become victims of both drug-related violence and political persecution.
Marino Zapete accuses the police chief of plotting his assassination
By José Efraín Estrella
June 17, 2010
This year alone several journalists in Dominican Republic have suffered deadly attacks while others have received death threats from sicarios (hit men) in an attempt to intimidate journalists who investigate military and government officials who are implicated in drug scandals and cover ups such as the Paya massacre in 2008 which linked top military personnel to the drug trade.
On June 4th, Marino Zapete, a well known independent journalist, denounced the existence of a police plan to assassinate him. In 2007, Zapete published a book denouncing government corruption during the administration of former president Hipólito Mejia.
The book also revealed corruption practices during of past governments of the current President Leonel Fernández.
Zapete, who has become a target of criticism by politicians, told the website Clave Digital that he received an envelope containing a CD which revealed a well-orchestrated plan to assassinate him led by Rafael Guillermo Guzmán Fermín, the chief of police.
Under Guzmán Fermín’s reign, extrajudicial killings against poor youth and alleged criminals have increased considerably. According to the 2009 annual report of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH, for its Spanish initials), in the first eight months of 2009, 400 people were murdered by police in what the police labels “bullets exchanges.”
However, it has been well documented that many of those killed by police were disarmed at the time of the event.
In March, media reports revealed that Guzmán Fermín’s father owned an apartment in Torre Atiemar, a luxurious condominium complex linked to Spanish drug dealers deported to Spain when the scandal broke this year. But further questioning arose as Dominican media outlets revealed that Arturo Del Tiempo, the ringleader of the drug operation, was granted the title of honorary police during his stay in the country.