Bolivian journalist Fernando Vidal and radio technician Karen Arce from Radio Popular in Yacuiba, a city on the Bolivian border with Argentina, were attacked by four masked men on Monday, October 29, 2012. The men threw petrol bombs inside the station and poured gasoline on Vidal and lit him on fire. Arce was also injured in the attack.
Vidal, the radio station's manager and owner, and Arce are being treated for their burns as the investigation on the arson attack moves forward. Early theories indicate that the attack may have been related to Vidal's outspoken criticism of corruption and contraband.
Vidal's son-in-law, journalist Esteban Farfán Romero, has been actively reporting on the journalists’ health and on the developments of the case. On Monday, October 29, Farfán reported on Facebook [es]:
DENUNCIA GRAVE: Radio Popular de Yacuiba ha sufrido un atentado terrorista. 4 personas con barbijos ingresaron al estudio de la Radio y rociaron gasolina al rostro del periodista Fernando Vidal. Don Fernando Vidal esta siendo atendido en el Hospital. ya esta estable.
SERIOUS REPORT: Radio Popular of Yacuiba has suffered a terrorist attack. 4 people with masks entered the studio at the Radio and poured gasoline on the face of journalist Fernando Vidal. Mr. Fernando Vidal is being treated at the hospital. His condition is stable.
He also shared pictures of the radio station after the attack on Twitter [es] and Facebook [es]:
Estamos trabajando para reconstruir la Radio. En este momento estamos sacando todo lo quemado para volver al aire como nos dijo don Fernando Vidal antes de partir a Santa Cruz. Asi quedo la Radio después del atentado
We are working to rebuild the Radio Station. At this moment we are getting rid of everything that was burned in order to go back on the air as Fernando Vidal told us before leaving for Santa Cruz [for treatment]. This is the Radio after the attack.
On October 31, Farfan (@EstebanFarfanR) [es] tweeted the latest report on the detentions:
@EstebanFarfanR: LO ULTIMO: La Policia acaba de detener al cuarto implicado en al atentado a Radio Popular.
@EstebanFarfanR: THE LATEST: The Police have detained the fourth person involved in the attack on Radio Popular.
Reporters Without Borders has “taken note of the progress apparently being made” in the investigation of the arson attack. They also report that they spoke with Farfán, who told them that,
Vidal believes that two Tarija department government officials were behind the attack. Interior minister Carlos Romero supports the theory. The attack was clearly designed to halt Vidal’s programme, which he was dedicating that day to discussing local contraband cases.
Farfán confirmed [es] that the family shares this theory on his Facebook account.
The article by Reporters Without Borders adds:
A former Yacuiba mayor and municipal councillor, Vidal has never hesitated to speak out about corruption in Tarija department and has always criticized the way public funds are managed at both national and regional level, where they have increased significantly now that the Chaco region is earning more than 100 million dollars a year from the sale of its natural gas.
The Bolivian government, the United Nations, and various press organizations have condemned the attack. Furthermore, Farfán reports that citizens of Yacuiba marched to demand justice. He shares photos from the march on Twitter: