RAN 25/11 27 May 2011
The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC) protests the murder of political columnist and activist Wilfred Iván Ojeda Peralta, who was abducted in La Victoria, Aragua state, on 16 May 2011 and found dead the next day. The manner in which he was shot may indicate that it was a contract killing ordered by an organized crime group. The WiPC calls on the Venezuelan authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the killing as a matter of urgency and to bring the culprits to justice.
Wilfred Iván Ojeda Peralta, columnist for the daily newspaper El Clarín and political activist, was found dead in a vacant lot in La Victoria, Aragua state, in the early hours of 17 May 2011, after having disappeared while driving the previous day. He had been gagged, tied up, hooded and shot once in the head. His car was found 15 miles (24 kilometers) from the scene. His belongings did not appear to have been taken, according to the police.
Ojeda, 56, mainly focused on local politics in his weekly column, which he had written for 22 years. Also an activist for the opposition Democratic Action party, Ojeda had been a representative in the Aragua state legislature and had held various municipal and regional posts. His family said he had not reported any threats against him or been aware of any danger.
As of 20 May, prosecutors were investigating the murder and had reportedly not dismissed any possible motives, including his journalism. The Scientific, Criminal, and Forensic Investigations Corps (Cuerpo de Investigaciones Científicas, Penales y Criminalísticas, CICPC) is in charge of the investigation.
According to Reporters Without Borders, the method of Ojeda’s execution suggests that it was a contract killing ordered by an organized crime group. The last journalist to be murdered in Venezuela was Orel Zambrano, editor of the political weekly ABC de la Semana and columnist for the regional daily Notitarde, in Valencia, Carabobo state, who was shot dead on 16 January 2009. The investigation into Zambrano’s murder is ongoing and has led to the arrest of a number of individuals presumed to have ordered and carried out the killing, all of them linked to organised crime.
•Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) (20 May 2011): English, Spanish
•Reporters Without Borders (19 May 2011): English, Spanish
•Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) (23 May 2011): English, Spanish