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Bolivian prosecutor seeks detention of journalist who denounced former state TV manager for harassment



Bolivian journalist Yadira Peláez, who accused Carlos Flores, a former manager of state-owned Bolivia TV, of sexual harassment, is being sued for economic damage to BTV in a complaint filed by the channel's management, according to El Deber.

Her lawyer, Karen Siñani, informed the country's press on Sept. 27 that the prosecution had requested that the journalist be taken into custody, a maneuver that they classify as a reprisal for having denounced Flores for sexual harassment.

Journalist Yadira Peláez, who accused a former manager of state-owned Bolivia TV of sexual harassment, is being sued for economic damage to BTV (YouTube)

"These events are clearly reprisals they have taken against Yadira Peláez, since she, for asserting her rights and guarantees as a woman, appealed to Law 348 [against sexual harassment], denounces the events of which she was a victim, including being fired from her source of employment," the lawyer told news agency ANF.

Peláez even delivered her complaint to Bolivian President Evo Morales in early September in the hope that the president would help her to get justice in her case.

Now, she is being accused of defaulting on duties and economic damage to BTV. The state TV management told the ANF that an internal audit found irregularities in the performance, of Peláez, who was regional manager of the network in the department of Beni.

The general manager of BTV, Ramiro Coaquira, denied that the process was a reprisal for the journalist's report of sexual harassment. He told ANF that in November 2016 Peláez was responsible for hiring a property maintenance service at BTV's headquarters in Trinidad, Beni's capital, and that she "did not comply with the supervision of the works nor with the technical specifications."

In a video posted on her Facebook profile on Sept. 27, Pelaez stated that all her decisions were made with the knowledge of and under the supervision of her superiors at BTV. She also said that in March, a state legal manager had already threatened her with an internal audit if she persisted in the complaint against Flores.

"I am going to present my justification to show that it is a manipulation and that all this is to silence me for having denouncing sexual harassment,” the journalist told El Deber.

Peláez was BTV's regional manager in the Beni department when she first denounced Flores, then-regional manager of the station in Santa Cruz department, in November 2016.

In March, Peláez told NTN24 that she had reported what had happened to the then-general manager of BTV, Gísela López, now Minister of Communication of Bolivia. Peláez said López told her that she would take care of the subject and speak with Flores personally.

However, the harassment allegedly continued and Peláez was dismissed days before López took office as minister and Flores was appointed as general manager of Bolivia TV, on Jan. 25 of this year, ANF reported. Faced with this, the journalist presented the complaint to the Prosecutor's Office of La Paz, in the country's capital.

Consequently, in March, Minister López suspended Flores from the position of general manager of the state broadcaster, but said that the denunciations are intended to harm her. She accused Peláez and another journalist who formally denounced Flores for harassment of trying "to “smear [her] name with a purely political end.”

Since Peláez's first complaint, at least five other women have accused Flores of sexual harassment, but only one has formally denounced him and the lawsuit is in La Paz today, reported Página Siete.

On Sept. 15, ANF reported that the judge in charge of the case filed by Peláez against Flores overturned the journalist's psychological assessment on the grounds that it had not been delivered within the prescribed period. This would be the main support of the accusation, because it testified that the harassment happened and certified the psychological damages suffered by the journalist, according to her defense.

According to Página Siete, the international organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has asked the Bolivian government to "do something" to stop the sexual abuse of journalists in the country, which it described as "intolerable."



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