Reporters at Risk
War and lawlessness increasingly turn foreign correspondents into targets
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IN Latin America, the threats journalists face from military and guerrilla groups have decreased in recent years. But those eager to silence a probing press now include drug traffickers, vigilantes, and other paramilitary groups.
During the last year, 11 reporters were killed in the region, according to the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA), compared with 18 in 1993.
The lower figure masks what IAPA press freedom coordinator Ricardo Trotti calls the largest threat to a Latin American free press: the impunity with which journalists are threatened, beaten, and killed.
None of the murders reported this year has been solved, Mr. Trotti says. And he estimates that 95 percent of the 155 killings, 1,109 known beatings, 49 kidnappings, and 205 terrorist acts against media installations his organization tallied for the last seven years have gone unpunished.
''[That] is the most horrendous intimidation of press freedom in this hemisphere,'' he says.
But many reporters, such as Jose Ruben Zamora Marro in Guatemala, refuse to be intimidated. As the founder and chief executive of the daily Siglo Veintiuno, Mr. Zamora has been shot at, sent funerary wreaths, threatened by high-level officials, and accused of drug-dealing and terrorism. .
''In recent years some newspapers like ours have opened their pages to new points of view and a much tougher line of questioning of those in power,'' Zamora says. ''But there are powerful segments of our society that are still not accustomed to accepting differences of opinion.''
Zamora's trouble started in 1991, after Siglo Veintiuno documented the involvement of several military officers, police, investigators, and judges in the murder of a prominent anthropologist.
The military chief of staff of the then-Guatemalan president even called to ''suggest'' to Zamora that the reporter on the investigation would be better off outside the country.
Last year, Zamora was shot at again after his paper pursued a financial scandal involving several top government officials.
He remains undaunted, he says, thanks to the support of many of his Guatemalan colleagues, as well as conspicuous attention from international press organizations and a few foreign officials.
The two faces of Russian intimidation
REPORTERS view the Moscow experience from two definite perspectives: before and after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Mr. Daniloff's experience was a notorious - but also a classic - example of the treatment the foreign press received before the collapse, when Soviet authorities carefully monitored the foreign press's every move.
In late August of 1986, Daniloff was the Moscow correspondent for U.S. News & World Report. He received a call from a Soviet acquaintance who asked to meet him in a Moscow park.
Just as the man handed Daniloff a package, Soviet security agents leaped from behind trees and bushes and photographed the scene. The package was later found to contain documents said to be top secret, and Daniloff was arrested and taken to Lefortovo prison in Moscow.
He was held for 13 days, then released in exchange for a Soviet physicist who had been arrested in the United States on espionage charges two weeks earlier.
''They grabbed a journalist accredited here to pursue some other end, like the Bosnian Serbs grabbing someone now to show that they are players,'' says Carol Williams, the Los Angeles Times bureau chief in Moscow, who was an AP correspondent at the time of the Daniloff affair.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Western journalists have enjoyed greater freedom, with no further serious harassment.
Russian journalists, on the other hand, are paying a terrible price. Barely a month goes by without a local journalist being killed for one reason or another.
Last October, Dmitri Kholodov was working on a story about corruption among senior officers in the Western Army Group, the Russian forces in Eastern Europe.
Mr. Kholodov, an editor at the daily newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets, had been told by an anonymous telephone caller that an attache case contained documents useful to his investigation.
Instead, it held a bomb. He was killed when he opened the booby-trapped briefcase.
Kholodov's death caused an outcry, but his killers have not been found.