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Colombia3 November 2005

City hall ostracizes reporter after corruption allegations

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the behaviour of Cúcuta mayor Ramiro Suárez Corzo in insulting and ostracizing reporter Gala Marcela Peña Álvarez of the daily La Opinión after she wrote a story about local government corruption in the newspaper’s 27 October issue.

“We call on Mayor Suárez to retract his comments and behave responsibly,” the press freedom organisation said. “Ostracizing Peña is an insidious measure that will have the effect of censoring her work and depriving her of the means of doing her job.”

Peña’s article was about alleged irregularities in a tax on public lighting during the Christmas period. It quoted unidentified sources as saying part of the revenue from the tax ended up in the personal bank account of the city’s director of public order and public spaces, Rafael Segundo Ramírez.

Ever since the story ran, Suárez has been extremely aggressive towards Gala. He insulted her. He denigrated her in statements on a local radio station. He refused to answer her questions. He ordered city officials not to talk to her. And he ordered the city’s press office to stop sending her releases.

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