The country is still one of the region’s most dangerous for journalists, with constant threats and pressure, including from guerrilla groups. Among taboo subjects are corruption, the guerrilla war and drug trafficking. More journalists fled into exile in 2005 after getting threats.
News is a key commodity in Colombia’s civil war that all sides try to control by monitoring, threatening or punishing journalists. Hernán Echeverri Arboleda, of the fortnightly magazine Urabá Hoy, kidnapped in January 2005 by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas, was released in April after his family and colleagues agreed to publicise a FARC message condemning the “excesses” of the authorities in the Antioquia region. No ransom was asked for, as the only aim was to get the message out.
Other attacks on journalists included with the 11 January murder of Julio Palacios Sánchez, of Radio Lemas, in Cúcuta, many death threats to editors of regional papers during the local election campaign in Cartagena and the flight from their region, and sometimes into exile abroad, of eight journalists, including Daniel Coronell, of the TV station Canal Uno.
The southwestern province of Valle del Cauca is typical of conditions for the country’s journalists. The media there are under pressure from the FARC, the paramilitaries, drug traffickers and local politicians objecting to investigations into their doings, editorial opinions or failure to put out certain news items. For every word they write or broadcast, journalists risk being accused by one side of favouring the other.