Varela Noriega was killed on the road between the town of Arauca and the Caño Limón oilfield as he returned from Arauca University with his sister-in-law and brother-in-law.Their vehicle, which had Meridiano 70 written on it, was reportedly stopped five kms outside Arauca by unidentified armed men who forced him to get out and then shot him in the back and the neck. His body was found a few metres off the road.
The journalist had been threatened several times by the paramilitaries and the guerrillas and, according to the station Radionet, his name had been added two weeks earlier to a list of 150 people designated "military targets" by the AUC (United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia) paramilitaries.
Six days before he was killed, he had announced on the air that about 100 AUC men had arrived in the town of Arauca. Varela Noriega, also a lawyer, was a well-known human rights activist. In his programme on Meridiano 70, he sharply criticised local elected officials and the various armed groups.