April 12, 2004, in Pucallpa, Peru
An unidentified gunman killed Rivera, a radio show host and political activist, in Peru's eastern Ucayali Department. Rivera, 54, hosted the morning show "Transparencia" (Transparency), broadcast daily on Frecuencia Oriental radio station, in the city of Pucallpa. In addition to being a journalist, he served as president of a local journalists' association and owned a glass store.
According to local press reports, Rivera was murdered about 1:30 p.m. while he was at his office in the glass store. Two unidentified individuals entered the store and one of them pulled out a gun and shot Rivera twice in the chest and shoulder. There was no sign of robbery, CPJ sources said. Rivera died of his wounds before he could be taken to the hospital.
A former parliamentary deputy for the Frente Democrático (Democratic Front), Rivera was an outspoken and controversial radio commentator known for his sharp criticism of local and regional authorities. On January 13, 2004, Rivera participated in a demonstration organized by squatters against local authorities in the province of Coronel Portillo. The protesters damaged the local council building, and then-Mayor Luis Valdez Villacorta filed a lawsuit against some of them, including Rivera, for property damages, CPJ sources said. Rivera had accused the mayor of corruption in the sale of land occupied by squatters.
Shortly after the murder, local police said Samuel Gonzáles Pinedo confessed to hiring his cousin Erwin Pérez Liendo and two other men to kill Rivera, according to press accounts.
Gonzáles' statements led to the arrest of two employees of the Coronel Portillo provincial municipality, Roy Gavino Culqui Saurino and Martín Ignacio Flores. The two worked in public relations for the provincial council. Culqui also was director of the radio show "La Noticia" (The News), broadcast on Radio Super, and Flores worked as freelance reporter. Culqui and Flores, along with several others, were convicted in 2006 and 2007 for planning and carrying out the murder, according to news reports.
Valdez and his former chief of staff, Soilo Ramírez Garay, were later charged with being the masterminds of the crime, allegedly in retaliation for the journalist's reports that accused the former mayor of having links to drug trafficking and other criminal activity in the region, according to news reports. Valdez was placed in preventative detention in Lima, where the case was transferred. After several trials, he was acquitted in 2012, but the press denounced irregularities in the proceedings and prosecutors appealed the decision to the Supreme Court in 2013.
Job: Broadcast Reporter, Columnist / Commentator
Beats Covered: Corruption, Politics
Local or Foreign: Local
Type of Death: Murder
Suspected Source of Fire: Government Officials
Taken Captive: No
- Alleged masterminds in Peruvian murder acquitted, February 9, 2010
- Court convicts killers but acquits masterminds in murder , November 14, 2007
- The Road to Justice - A CPJ Special Report, October 7, 2007
- A Mayor and a Murder: CPJ Special Report, May 3, 2007
- Attacks on the Press 2005: Peru, February 16, 2006