A pamphlet claiming to be issued by the “eastern war front” of the ELN rebel group has reportedly been circulating in parts of the eastern Colombian state of Arauca, making threats against journalists active in the area.
According to a public condemnation issued by the Colombian Federation of Journalists (FECOLPER), the pamphlet, which also reportedly mentions “multinationals” and companies and individuals involved in “hydrocarbon mining,” warns “media sources at the service of the interests of capitalism” to be “neutral” in their reporting.
Only one source, the local Caracol Radio affiliate Voz de Cinaruco, was mentioned specifically by name, with the pamphlet reportedly calling its journalists “war apologists” and “idiot tools” in service of “dominant political interests.”
Still, the FELCOLPER says it “condemns any attack on the free exercise of the press,” assuring in the statement released on its website that it has contacted the relevant authorities, with whom it is currently in dialogue to address the security concerns of local reporters.
The National Police, according to the statement, are already investigating the pamphlet, whose source has yet to be definitively confirmed.
Neither FECOLPER nor National Police officials were available to comment on measures being taken to guarantee the safety of practicing journalists in the region.
Colombia has long since been regarded as one of the most hostile countries in the world to practice journalism, especially in largely lawless rural areas such as Aruaca, with abuses ranging from general intimidation to deliberate assassinations perpetrated against journalists by rebel organizations such as the FARC and ELN, as well as right-wing para and neo-paramilitary groups and even state forces.
The ELN has stepped up terrorist activity in recent weeks, attacking energy infrastructure and energy sector employees in an apparent attempt to pressure the Colombian government into intitiating formal peace talks like the ones being held with the FARC rebel group in Havana.