Colombian journalist threatened after investigating ties between paramilitary, local political groups

By Liliana Honorato

A Colombian journalist received a threatening phone call with the sounds of automatic weapons being fired while music played in the background, reported Reporters Without Borders. The threat came as the journalist was finishing a report about paramilitaries in the Boyacá Department, located in the center of Colombia.

Paul Bacares, a journalist for Bogota’s public television channel, Canal Capital, was investigating ties between the paramilitary groups of that department with local political groups and other public figures, which “motivated the ‘warning’ the journalist received,” according to the Mexican magazine Etcétera.

Although the majority of threats against Colombian journalists usually come from guerrilla groups, the threats from paramilitary groups are also a serious problem in the country. In August 2011, the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP in Spanish) reported that the paramilitary groups represented one of the main threats against the press in Colombia. In June of this year, activist and journalist Carlos Lozano reported that a paramilitary group was plotting to kill him.

Earlier in July, Reporters Without Borders also expressed concern for the multiple attacks that indigenous community radios from the Cauca Department, located in the southwestern part of the country, have received as the fighting between guerrillas and the army from that department intensified.

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) said in February 2012 that violence, self-censorship and impunity were the most worrisome problems for the press in Colombia. In 2012 in Colombia, two journalists have been killed, various journalists have had to flee their towns after being threatened, and one journalist was kidnapped by the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC in Spanish). The FARC also was behind a terrorist attack that attempted to kill ex-official turned journalist Fernando Londoño Hoyos.

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.