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Colombia July 5, 2006
H.E. Alvaro Uribe
Palacio de Narino
Despacho del Senor Presidente
Cra 8 #7-26
Republic of Colombia
Fax: (011.57.1) 286-7434
Recently you have heard from other journalism organizations protesting unjustified attacks on working journalists in some provincial towns, as well as in Bogota. These protests have been issued by the Committee to Protect Journalists, a world-wide organization; by the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC); and by the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP), Bogota.
Now, the Overseas Press Club of America wants to add our voice to those of other journalism organizations calling on your Government to put a stop to these abuses of freedom of the press.
• Pedro Antonio Cardenas Caceres, director of the biweekly La Verdad, was forced to flee his hometown in the city of Honda in early May after threats to his life that followed publication of articles about local government corruption. Previously, Mr. Cardenas was forced to leave the country for more than a year in 2003-2004 after being kidnapped by a para-military group.
• In mid-May, the journalist, Richard Calpa, director of the indigenous radio station, La Libertad, in the town of Totoro, was detained by police from a special anti-riot squad, assisted by the Army. His working equipment was burned and he was taken away in an armored car. This happened while he was covering protests in the town of Cauca against the Free Trade Agreement (TLC) and in support of a land claims agreement involving more than l5,000 residents of the area.
• At about the same time, several other area journalists were illegally held after covering disturbances at an indigenous reserve in nearby La Maria. Those seized by the authorities included the reporter, Marcelo Forero, of the Internet publication, El Turbion, and Jesus Lopez and Carmen Eugenia Leon who were covering the disturbances for the radio station of La Maria’s communications office.
• And in Bogota, Daniel Munoz, a photographer with the international news agency, Reuters, was attacked by a police officer during the May 2 disturbances associated with the transit strike in the capital. While taking photographs for Reuters, Munoz was hit in the face with a baton by a police officer, breaking two of his teeth.
Your Excellency, you have become known for your defense of civil rights and individual freedoms. Therefore, we are sure you will agree that these attacks on working journalists are indefensible. We ask that you make sure these matters are investigated to demonstrate that officials who violate freedom of the press laws in Colombia will be punished.
Norman A. Schorr
Freedom of the Press Committee
Luis Alberto Moreno Mejia
Ambassador of Colombia to the U.S.A.
Embassy of the Republic of Colombia
2118 Leroy Place, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 232-8643
Ambassador Luis Guillermo Giraldo
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Colombia
to the United Nations
140 West 57 Street, 5 th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Fax: (212) 371-2813
U.S. Ambassador to Colombia
Embassy of the United States of America
Carrera 45 #22D-45
Fax: (011.57.1) 315-2197
Julio César Guzmán
Luis Carlos Gómez
Martinez Ana Mercedes Gomez
Fernando Quijano Velasco