The killing of a radio reporter by a motorcycle gunman in the northern department of Cordoba reignited concerns Saturday about the safety of journalists in Colombia.
Clodomiro Castilla, a reporter and morning announcer at La Voz de Monteria radio in northeastern Colombia, was gunned down on her front porch Friday night, said Jaime Cuervo, a lead investigator for federal prosecutors in the state capital of Monteria.
Castilla, a 50-year-old mother of four, had reported on right-wing paramilitary forces and their friendly ties to the area’s business elite.
Police had no immediate suspects in the killing and offered a financial reward for leads. Castilla’s employer said she had received threats and was assigned bodyguards for two years until last year.
Journalists once were frequent targets in Colombia’s struggle against drug trafficking and during a decades-long civil conflict involving leftist guerrillas and reactionary paramilitaries.
But killings have declined. Castilla was the second journalist killed since the start of 2008, according to Colombian Foundation for the Freedom of Press.
President Alvaro Uribe expressed his concern in a nationally televised speech.
“We have made every effort to stop the threat of assassinations against journalists,” he said. “Just when we thought we had overcome the tragic situation, more killings of journalists appear.”
Castilla was known for her reports on the activities of Salvatore Mancuso, a local paramilitary boss extradited in 2008 to the United States on drug-trafficking charges, and his ties with powerful business interests in the region, said Rafael Gomez, owner and director of La Voz de Monteria. (AP)
Gomez said Monteria is seen as the cradle of Colombia’s right-wing militias where journalists are intimidated in their work.
“We’re in the worst location in Colombia,” he said. “Nobody dares to say anything: We’re the only ones.”