By Liliana Honorato
On Tuesday, July 3, the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army of Colombia released fliers criticizing the journalistic work of the radio stations Caracol and RCN in the department of Arauca, in northern Colombia, where the guerrillas constantly pressure journalists to not publish information "that is not to their liking," reported the news site Notillano.com.
According to the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP in Spanish), the guerrilla group used the pamphlets to declare an armed strike, arguing that the radio stations have become “lying instruments" of the government. The constant armed conflicts in Arauca cause fear and anxiety among journalists of the region, which creates "serious symptoms of self-censorship," added the FLIP.
This is not the first time that the Colombian guerrillas have threatened and put journalists in danger in the country. At least three journalists have fled their hometowns after receiving threats from illegal armed groups this year. On May 15, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC in Spanish) tried to kill journalist Londoño Hoyos with a bomb explosion that left at least 40 people injured and two dead.
The kidnapping of French journalist Roméo Langlois by the FARC during late April may have been the the most worrisome news for Colombian journalists this year. Although Langlois said that the FARC treated him as a guest instead of as a war prisoner, his kidnapping prompted the creation of a new association to unite and protect foreign journalists working in Colombia, reported the newspaper El Tiempo on Tuesday, July 3.
According to the social network Bottup, the International Press Association of Colombia was created in Bogota on June 20 with the main goal of “defending... the professional practice of the foreign press in Colombia," and monitoring the practice of press freedom and promoting improvement in the quality of information.
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.