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Colombia30 May 2005

FARC guerrillas continue to blow up radio and TV antennae

Reporters Without Borders wrote to Colombia’s communications minister today voicing support for a request by Gabriel Morales, the manager of the privately-owned radio station Latina Estéreo 91.3 FM, for the authorities to rebuild its transmitter in Puerto Asís (in the southern department of Putumayo) in different, protected location after it was blown up for a second time on 25 May.

The press freedom organization also urged the authorities to "deal with the problem more globally by offering to protect the installations of radio stations in the Calí region if they so request."

The letter continued: "The deliberate destruction of a news media’s installations is a direct violation of press freedom if it is done with the intention of depriving the public of its right to be informed. This has become common practice in the south of Colombia and must be brought to a stop as quickly as possible."

Reporters Without Borders added: "The authorities have a duty to deploy all available resources to ensure that journalists can work freely and without fear."

Latina Estéreo 91.3 FM was attacked for the first time on 13 February when two explosions destroyed its antenna and other equipment. The station was forced off the air for two weeks and its journalists have been working in a climate of tension ever since.

A car-bomb wrecked 70 per cent the building housing the RCN radio and television stations in the city of Cali on 20 February. The Marxist guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) claimed responsibility for the attack four days later.

The television broadcasts of RCN and Caracol, another privately-owned TV network, went off the air in much of Putumayo department following an attack on a joint relay station near the locality of Mocoa on 2 March.

And on 13 March, a bomb near the town of Florencia (in the southern department of Caquetá) destroyed an antenna used jointly by local radio stations Cristalina Estéreo and Espléndida Estéreo, reducing the area their signals reach.



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