Colombian guerrilla group claims responsibility for kidnapping of journalist

By Liliana Honorato

The National Liberation Army (ELN in Spanish) of Colombia claimed to have kidnapped journalist Elida Parra Alfonso, who, along with an engineer, went missing on Tuesday, July 24, in the department of Arauca, in northeastern Colombia, according to Reporters Without Borders. The guerrilla group sent a note on Monday, July 30, to the house of Parra Alfonso saying that it was holding the journalist captive.

According to the news agency EFE, “the journalist and the engineer did community work with the contracting firms of Oleoducto Bicentenario” in the town of Saravena, which “transports crude oil to exportation ports in the Caribbean,” and the ELN opposes this oil infrastructure.

Parra Alfonso is the second Colombian journalist kidnapped by guerrilla members in 2012. At the end of April, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC in Spanish) kidnapped French journalist Roméo Langlois and held him for more than a month.

Threats from illegal armed groups are one of the most concerning problems that Colombian journalists face daily. At the beginning of July, the ELN guerrillas spread flyers attacking the journalistic work of radio stations Caracol and RCN.

The Colombian paramilitary groups also have caused problems for local journalists. The most recent threat of this kind was reported on July 26 by the Press Freedom Foundation (FLIP in Spanish). FLIP said that journalists William Solano and Arlex Velazco de Buga, from Valle del Cauca, received threats from the criminal gang Los Urabeños, allegedly for their reporting.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.