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Colombia3 March 2005

Latina Estereo on the air with weaker transmitter

Radio Latina Estereo in the southern town of Puerto Asís, which was the target of a bombing on 13 February, has resumed broadcasting with a small transmitter that does reach beyond the outskirts of the town. Before the attack, its signal covered half of the department of Putumayo.

03.03.05- Journalist compelled to flee and two radio stations forced to stop broadcasting
Reporters Without Borders lamented the plight of the press in Putumayo, southern Colombia after journalist Claudio Gomajoa Buesaquillo was forced into exile and radio La Dorada Estéreo ended its broadcasts while a bombing silenced Latina Estéreo 91.3 FM radio.

"It is the second time in a week that a Colombian journalist has had to leave his workplace under threat. It is also the second time in the same period that a media has been bombed," said the worldwide pres freedom organisation. When they are not being killed or abducted, Colombian journalists are thus silenced, which leads one to ask if it is still possible to do this job in some parts of the country?".

Besaquillo, sole journalist and owner of the small local station La Dorada Estéreo in Dorada, 90 kilometres from Puerto Asís, had to leave the region under threat from paramilitaries.

The Colombian press freedom foundation (FLIP) said the journalist had on 28 January broadcast the claims of a movement supporting a kidnap victim. The movement’s leader, José Hurtado, was murdered on 11 February. At his funeral the next day several people warned Besaquillo that he would be next to die after covering a peaceful demonstration by the movement and seeking military protection for the residents on that day.

Dorada’s police chief on 18 February advised the journalist to leave the region, which he did, entailing the closing of the radio station.

Two explosions destroyed the aerial and burned some of the equipment at Latina Estéreo 91.3 FM in Puerto Asís on 13 February, FLIP also reported. Since then the station has been unable to broadcast.

Its owner, Gabriel Morales, said he had not received any threats but said that his staff had recently been reporting on the Colombian Army’s offer of rewards in exchange for information. The bombing came a week before a similar attack on radio and television RCN in Cali.

Reporters Without Borders called for thorough investigations in each case so that those responsible were punished and to protect journalists’ safety and their right to work freely.

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