A bomb near the town of Florencia (in the southern department of Caquetá) yesterday destroyed an antenna used jointly by local radio stations Cristalina Estéreo and Espléndida Estéreo. The two stations, which cover all issues including the civil war, continued to broadcast in neighbouring departments. Neither had received any threat, Cristalina Estéreo manager Jairo Benítez said.
The department of Caquetá is a traditional stronghold of the Marxist guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and is one of the epicentres of the civil war.
Yesterday’s bombing was the fourth in a month against radio antennae or radio station installations in the south. Latina Estéreo’s antenna in Puerto Asís (in Putumayo department) was bombed on 13 February. A car-bomb claimed by the FARC destroyed most of the Cali studios of the radio and TV broadcaster RCN on 20 February. An antenna used by RCN and Caracol in Mocoa (in the north of Putumayo department) was blown up on 2 March.
07.03.05-Arson attack destroys relay station used by two TV networks
The broadcasts of two privately-owned TV networks, RCN and Caracol, are longer reaching much of the southern department of Putumayo following an attack on a joint relay station near the locality of Mocoa on 2 March. The daily El Tiempo quoted an army spokesman as saying "several men disguised as police officers overpowered the guard, doused the premises with gasoline and set it on fire."
The attack, which the local authorities blame on the Marxist guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), is the third on the news media in Putumayo in the past few weeks. An explosion destroyed the aerial of radio Latina Estereo on 13 February in Puerto Asís, while La Dorada Estéreo journalist Carlos Gomajoa Buesaquillo was forced to flee on 18 February. It was also the second attack this year on RCN, whose studios in Cali were bombed on 20 February.
04.03.05- President Uribe orders army to give the news media better protection
Condemning the 20 February bombing of RCN’s radio and TV studios in Cali, President Álvaro Uribe yesterday ordered the armed forces to "redouble security provisions for the news media and said protection of press freedom was one of his priorities. The Cali bombing injured two people and destroyed 70 per cent of the RCN’s premises.
28.03.05- FARC claims bombing of RCN studios in Cali
The guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have claimed responsibility for the 20 February bombing that injured two people and wrecked 70 per cent of the building housing the studios of the radio and TV broadcaster RCN in Cali.
In a communique dated 24 February that was released yesterday, the guerrillas accused RCN of becoming "an echo chamber for army propaganda and a semi-official government media." The use of the term "echo chamber" clearly alluded to a recent comment by Vice-President Francisco Santos accusing the Colombian news media of "creating an echo chamber for terrorist activities."
The FARC said in its statement that it "respects the opinions and work of RCN’s journalists" but "objects to the strategy of its owners against the right to be well-informed."
22.02.05-Concern about safety of journalists in Cali region after bombing of RCN
Reporters Without Borders voiced alarm today about growing threats to press freedom in Colombia after a powerful car-bomb wrecked 70 per cent the building housing the RCN radio and television stations in Cali on 20 February.
"We demand a thorough investigation to identify those responsible for this flagrant attack on the journalistic profession and the right to report the news," the organization said, pointing out that previous press freedom violations in the Cali region have never been solved.
Two people were injured in the RCN bombing - Radio Calidad employee Ricardo Luna and RCN security guard Jaime Alberto Martínez. Both were hospitalized. The bomb consisted of an estimated 20 kg of explosives that were left in a Renault 4 car.
Army chief Gen. Reinaldo Castellanos accused the Marxist guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) of responsibility.
It was not the first attack against RCN. Shots were fired at an RCN crew near Cali in April 2002, killing journalist Walter López and cameraman Héctor Sandoval. At the time, journalists blamed this attack on the military, who blamed it on the FARC. RCN studios in Cúcuta and Valledupar were also attacked in 2002, while rockets were fired at RCN headquarters in Bogotá in April of that year.
Reporters Without Borders has meanwhile learned that press photographer Hernando Marné Sánchez Roldán was killed on 19 February in Tulúa, a locality near Cali, in an area prone to turf battles between guerrillas, paramilitaries and drug traffickers. He was taking photos when a man came up and shot him twice. He had never reported receiving any threats and it was not immediately clear whether he was killed because of his work as a journalist.