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Colombia11 February 2008

Journalist’s Day marred by radio show host’s murder in war-torn region

Reporters Without Borders is shocked by the murder of Manuel Antonio Macías Carrera of Radio Surcolombiana, who was gunned down in Algeciras (in the southern department of Huila) on 9 February, Journalist’s Day in Colombia. Aged 38, he had been a member of the Algeciras town council since last year.

“Was it the journalist or the local politician who was murdered?” Reporters Without Borders asked. “Or maybe it was a combination of the two jobs that cost him his life. Macías did not lack potential enemies, as there is considerable local political tension that is fed by the presence of FARC guerrillas in the region.”

The press freedom organisation added: “The investigators must avoid two dangers. Firstly they must not rush to rule out the possibility that Macías’ murder was linked to his work. Secondly they must not rush to blame it on the guerrillas, as this would probably mean it was doomed to remain unpunished.”

Macías was returning home with his 10-year-old son after attending religious festivities in the centre of Algeciras when two men on a motorcycle opened fire on him, and then drove off. One of the shots hit him in the head and he died 10 minutes after being rushed to a hospital.

A former sports journalist with a regional TV station based in Neiva, the capital of Huila department, Macías had of late been dividing his time between his two Radio Surcolombiana programmes and his activities as municipal councillor.

Elected to the town council as a representative of the Indigenous Afro-Colombian Union (UIA) in October, Macías had been pressing for the council to resume sitting in Algeciras instead of Neiva, to which it was transferred for security reasons. The FARC’s “Teófilo Forero” section is well established in Huila and is active in the Algeciras area. For this reason, Macías proposal was not supported by many other members of the council and his relations with them were often tense.

The authorities lost no time in blaming Macías’ murder on the FARC, which had warned that reprisals against those who won the October elections would begin in April.

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