Colombia Reports shuts down for 24 hours on Wednesday to protest the ongoing attacks on the press that are making independent journalism virtually impossible.
Reporting will resume on Thursday and will continue until I decide to throw in the towel.
I have spent half my life in journalism and have dedicated one third of my life to reporting on Colombia.
I love this country infinitely more than my native country, the Netherlands, which has always been more than mutual.
The people that I have met, the local cultures and the astonishing nature have generously rewarded me for everything I have invested in this country.
It’s this love for Colombia that has given me a drive to work harder than I ever have, endure hardships I didn’t even know existed and resist fear I have never felt before.
When I came here in 2008 I couldn’t possible imagine that I would be witness to a peace process that is turning former war heroes into alleged war criminals.
The amount of evidence of criminal activity my colleagues and I have uncovered over the past 13 years, especially during the peace process, can get people in prison.
Understandably, nobody wants to go to prison, least of all the villains who claim to be heroes.
Killing and intimidating Colombian journalists is easy, but one would have to be a very stupid villain to kill a foreign journalist. The clever ones simply try to kick us out of the country.
I reported this first in 2018 and was allowed to speak before Congress about how this tactic had become more aggressive last year.
At the request of foreign embassies, a dozen colleagues and I sent an extensive report on the delicate state of the freedom of the press, but without response.
I keep receiving emails and phone calls from desperate colleagues who are being kicked out, but there’s little I can do when I am trying not to lose my home in between articles.
My friends and Colombian readers are supportive as ever, and my love for this country is unflinching.
I have seen the rise of a whole new generation of fun-loving Colombians who don’t take shit from anyone.
It’s this generation that will be kicking the mafia out of government and into prison after next year’s elections.
I am getting older though, and am exhausted. There’s no saying if I will be here to witness this Colombian spring or will have thrown in the towel before.