Journalists in Colombian city stage walkout to protest threats and attacks

Approximately 40 journalists from different media outlets in the Pacific port city of Buenaventura walked out of their workplaces on May 9, 2011 to protest threats and violence faced by reporters in the region, El País reports.

The Buenaventura Journalists’ Union (UPB) organize the protest by radio, print, and TV journalists against increasing incidents against media workers who lack health care and benefits, RCN Radio explains. “It is a way…of repudiating attacks on journalists, information restrictions, and the economic discrimination they face for not acceding to the interests of businesses and the government,” said Manuel Barrantes, president of the UPB, quoted by El País.

According to the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP), over the last decade there have been two kidnappings and 34 threats against journalists in Buenaventura, an area FLIP director Andrés Morales called a “historically difficult region to do journalism in,” the Associated Press reports. Barrantes added that 12 journalists have been killed in the city over the last two decades.

The incident that sparked the protest was an attack on three reporters covering safety issues by security guards at a port company, TV Azteca says.

Nationwide, journalists have faced increasing threats. Specifically at least a dozen journalists have been listed as “military targets” by paramilitary groups. According to the Colombian Federation of Journalists (FECOLPER), three more media workers were threatened last week in the Caribbean port city of Barranquilla: Radio Alegre’s Yalil Donado Sayed; Telecaribe’s Hernando Lozano Ávila, and Caracol Radio’s Liney Escorcia.

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.