An email was circulated on Thursday, signed by the central bloc of the “Aguilas Negras,” a neo-paramilitary organization born out of the demobilization process between 2004 and 2006.
The email stated, “It’s time to kill and annihilate all the people and organizations that pose as human rights defenders.”
It continued, “We issue these new threats to the people and organizations that continue to break the policies and consciousness of the people.”
Among the personal targets of the e-mail were the president of the Colombian Federation of Journalists (FECOLPER), Eduardo Marquez, and journalists Hollman Morris and Daniel Coronell. Both of these journalists were highly critical of the era under former President Alvaro Uribe and are currently residing in the U.S.
Organizational targets included Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES), the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN), and the League of Displaced Women.
Marquez admitted that, paradoxically, he knows what to suggest when a colleague is threatened, but not when it has happened to him. He says that he is unsure of what to do.
The president also said he regretted that another of those named in the list was his friend Perales Mendoza, a journalist originally displaced from Bucaramanga by paramilitaries, who has returned but must live every day with bodyguards and an armored vehicle.
FECOLPER, which represents more than 1,300 journalists and 21 regional associations, is due to meet on Friday with the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Ministry of the Interior and Justice. It hopes to present this latest case and request the state take action in defense of journalism.
The Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) issued a press release in response to these threats, rejecting such displays of intimidation and requesting also the state take the necessary protective measures and prosecute those responsible.
FLIP also mentioned that a similar email was circulated two weeks ago in the Valle del Cauca department, threatening two journalists.
In 2010, Reporters Without Borders ranked Colombia 145th out of 178 countries for press freedom.