The life of an abducted journalist dowsed in gasoline was saved when his kidnappers were unable to light the match that would have set him ablaze.
Mario Esteban Lopez, the director of Channel 22 in Ipiales, Nariño, was kidnapped Wednesday night while driving home. Two men jumped in the car with him and forced him to the outskirts of the municipality in the southern Nariño department, where they beat him and attempted to take his life.
“I struggled with them, the box of matches fell on the floor of the car and was left completely wet … when they wanted to light one they realized that they couldn’t,” said the journalist, according to a Friday report in newspaper El Espectador.
The would-be murderers fled when they saw local police passing by.
Twenty-eight year old Lopez filed a report with the country’s Prosecutor General’s Office and the police but the jouranlist reported that he was disheartened when neither entity offered more protection.
“The police only gave me a manual about personal safety,” said Lopez.
The journalist attributes his kidnapping and attempted murder to local drug dealers and the mayor of Ipiales, Gustavo Estupiñan Calvache, who recently threatened Lopez.
The Colombian Federation of Journalists (FECOLPER), which represents over 1,300 journalists nation-wide, had a “march of silence” on May 3 to protest violence against journalists. The organization demanded that President Juan Manuel Santos make “concrete actions to guarantee the life and physical integrity of the journalists, as well as the right to freely exercise their profession.”