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Colombia November 7, 2006
H.E. Alvaro Uribe Velez
Palacio de Narino
Despacho del Senor Presidente
Cra 8 #7-26
Bogotá , D.C.
Republic of Colombia
Fax: (011.57.1) 286-7434
We are dismayed to hear that yet another journalist in Colombia has been forced to go into hiding because of death threats. Otoniel Sanchez of the local TV station, CNC, in Cartago now becomes the seventh journalist in Colombia to flee for his safety this year. This comes in a year when three other Colombian journalists have been murdered — just like Oscar Polanco, director of CNC in Cartago until his killing in 2004.
There seemed for a while to be a chance that violence against journalists in Colombia was subsiding. Events this year destroy that hope. It appears that para-military forces that are in theory disbanded, in fact, still operate in Colombia ‘s shadows…in some cases, in cooperation with local officials.
According to the Foundation for Freedom of the Press in Bogota , Otoniel Sanchez received repeated and threatening anonymous telephone calls after reporting irregularities in the management of the local skating rink. On October 18, he received a package containing three 9mm bullets and a note promising the same fate as Polanco. During the night of October 19, gunmen fired on his home. The following day he fled into hiding.
Our colleagues in Colombia work under intolerable conditions with an untenable choice: censor themselves, thereby failing to inform the public — or run the risk of being killed.
We of the Overseas Press Club of America, which has been defending the freedom of the press around the world for more than six decades, urge you to press the investigation of these attacks on journalists. A necessary condition is the completed dismantling of para-military forces so that the press can fulfill its role without threats and intimidation.
Freedom of the Press Committee
Carolina Barco Isakson
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 Claudia Blum
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Colombia
to the United Nations
140 East 57th Street
New York , NY 10022
Fax: (212) 371-2813
William B. Wood
U.S. Ambassador to Colombia
Embassy of the United States of America
Calle 22D-BIS, nos. 47-51
Apartado Aereo 3831
Fax: (011.57.1) 315-2197