See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Back-to-Back Murders of Journalists Raise Concerns in Colombia

Edgar Quintero-Colombia

Journalist Edgar Quintero. Photo: Private file from Colombia Ombudsman website.

Edgar Quintero was the second journalist killed in Colombia in a three-week span. Known simply as “Quintin,” Edgar Quintero was the 57-year-old program director of the show “News and More” on Radio Luna for the channel Toledar. He was shot in Palmira, Valle del Cauca on March 2 as he entered a bakery near his office.

Twitter users were quick to condemn the murder. The group TWlTTEROS CALI was one of the first to weigh in:

A Radio Moon journalist from Toledar, Edgar ‘Quintin’ Quintero, was killed March 2, in Palmira.

Cesar Montoya posted a photo in solidarity with the journalist:

I am Quíntín. KILLED IN PALMYRA, THE JOURNALIST QUINTIN QUINTERO 

Flora Tristan, meanwhile, posted a popular quote in his honor:

“When a journalist is silenced, your right to know is silenced.” Journalist Edgar Quintero, of Radio Luna, Palmira, was killed on Monday night.

Many complained that the media failed to afford the news of Quintero's murder its due importance, while several national and international associations have denounced the crime and demanded an investigation into the murder, in light of other threats against the independent media.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned the crime and “urge[d] the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into all the possible reasons and to find those responsible for it.” At the same time, it emphasized that Quintero was the second journalist killed in Colombia in less than three weeks, referring to Luis Peralta of Radio Linda, who was murdered in El Doncello, Caquetá, a province in the south of the country.

Reporters without Borders also condemned the killing, “express[ing] concern about the climate of impunity that prevails in the country”:

Exhortamos a las autoridades a no descartar la hipótesis de que el crimen podría estar relacionado con su profesión y a desarrollar investigaciones exhaustivas, independientes e imparciales en estos dos casos“, señaló Claire San Filippo, responsable del Despacho Américas de nuestra organización. “Este segundo caso recuerda la precaria seguridad de los actores de la información en el país. La impunidad generalizada no permite que los periodistas ejerzan su profesión con tranquilidad ni que las víctimas y sus familias obtengan justicia. Debe ponerse un alto a esta situación, los responsables de estos crímenes deben responder por sus actos“, añadió.

We urge the authorities not to rule out the possibility that the crime could be related to their profession, and to conduct thorough, independent, and impartial investigations into these two cases.

This second case recalls the media and information workers’ precarious security in the country. The widespread impunity [enjoyed by those who persecute journalists] prevents reporters from doing their jobs safely, and it makes it hard for the victims and their families to obtain justice. This situation must end, and those responsible for these crimes must answer for their acts.

The organization highlighted other issues, as well:

Entre 1980 y 2012, 27 periodistas han sido asesinados en el departamento del Valle del Cauca; nueve de ellos en el departamento de Caquetá, según datos de Reporteros sin Fronteras. Además de los asesinatos, RSF ha denunciado las numerosas agresiones cometidas en el departamento de Valle del Cauca, como el intento de asesinato del que fue víctima el 19 de noviembre de 2013 Diego Gómez Valverde, director del Canal Universitario, cadena televisiva de la Universidad del Valle, de Cali (este). Ese mismo año el periodista Yesid Toro tuvo que huir de la región debido a las amenazas. El 28 de septiembre de 2014 el grupo paramilitar “Los Urabeños”, que se encuentran en la lista de Predadores de la libertad de prensa de RSF, amenazó de muerte a ocho periodistas de diferentes medios de comunicación de Cali y de Buenaventura. Sus nombres aparecieron en una nueva lista negra difundida cuatro días después de que otros dos periodistas fueran amenazados de manera similar por la banda criminal “Los Rastrojos”. Los Urabeños actúan en los 337 municipios del centro y de la costa caribeña, en particular en las grandes zonas de Cali y Medellín.

Colombia, el segundo país más mortífero del continente americano para el gremio periodístico, sigue siendo muy peligroso para ejercer este oficio.

Between 1980 and 2012, 27 journalists have been murdered in the province of Valle del Cauca; nine of them in the province of Caquetá, according to Reporters without Borders.

Besides the murders, RSF has denounced the numerous attacks in the province of Valle del Cauca, such as the attempted murder of Diego Gomez Valverde, director of the University Channel and a broadcaster of the Universidad del Valle, in Cali (east) on November 19, 2013.

Also in 2013, the reporter Yesid Toro had to flee the region because of threats. On September 28, 2014, the paramilitary group “Los Urabeños,” which is on the RSF list of “Predators of Press Freedom,” threatened to kill eight journalists from different media in Cali and Buenaventura. Their names appeared in a new blacklist broadcasted four days after two other journalists were similarly threatened by the criminal gang “Los Rastrojos.” The Urabeños operate in 337 municipalities in the center of the country and on the Caribbean coast, particularly in the large areas of Cali and Medellin.

Colombia is the second deadliest country in the Americas when it comes to practicing journalism.

Meanwhile, the Federation of the Press Associations of Spain (FAPE) joined in protest with the International Federation of Journalists (IFP) and the Colombian Federation of Journalists (FECOLPER):

A comienzos de 2014, la FECOLPER lanzó un informe sobre la crítica situación del periodismo en el país. Según el mismo, en Colombia  “informar es cada vez más una profesión de peligro y ello se refleja en crímenes como asesinatos, atentados, amenazas, destrucción de instalaciones o equipos, interceptaciones ilegales, detenciones ilegales, desplazamiento forzado y acoso en sus distintas manifestaciones”.

La FIP y la FAPE se unen a la FECOLPER en la fuerte condena a esta nueva afrenta a la libertad de expresión y, preocupados por la alta tasa de impunidad  en estos hechos, exigen que se investiguen hasta las últimas consecuencias para dar con los autores materiales e intelectuales de este asesinato.

Early in 2014, the FECOLPER launched a report about journalists’ critical situation in the country. According to this document, reporting in Colombia is increasingly “dangerous profession,” as reflected by “crimes like murders, attacks, threats, destruction of facilities or equipment, illegal wiretapping, illegal detentions, forced displacement, and harassment in its various manifestations” .

The IFJ and the FAPE, united with the FECOLPER, strongly condemns this new affront on the freedom of expression and—concerned about the high rate of criminal impunity in these cases—demands a full investigation to find those responsible for this murder.

Meanwhile, the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) condemned Quintero's murder and urged local authorities to press ahead with the investigations.

The Organization of American States (OAS) issued a press release calling for a resolution to the crime, emphasizing the freedom of expression and journalists’ right to their profession.

El principio 9 de la Declaración de Principios sobre Libertad de Expresión de la CIDH señala: “el asesinato, secuestro, intimidación, amenaza a los comunicadores sociales, así como la destrucción material de los medios de comunicación, viola los derechos fundamentales de las personas y coarta severamente la libertad de expresión. Es deber de los Estados prevenir e investigar estos hechos, sancionar a sus autores y asegurar a las víctimas una reparación adecuada”.

La Relatoría Especial para la Libertad de Expresión es una oficina creada por la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH), a fin de estimular la defensa hemisférica del derecho a la libertad de pensamiento y expresión, considerando su papel fundamental en la consolidación y el desarrollo del sistema democrático.

The principle Number 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) states: “the murder, kidnapping, intimidation, or threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media, violate the fundamental human rights and strongly restrict freedom of expression. It is the duty of States to prevent and investigate such occurrences, to punish their perpetrators and to ensure that the victims receive due compensation.”

The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression is an office created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), to stimulate hemispheric defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression, given its fundamental role in the consolidation and development of the democratic system.

Meanwhile the Circle of Journalists of Bogota (CPB) lamented the news and denounced that the murder took place, despite several warnings:

Había recibido amenazas por cuanto en sus informaciones denunciaba actuaciones corruptas de funcionarios en su región; situación que conlleva -como se ha señalado varias veces por Nuestro Gremio- la necesidad de que la Fiscalía General tome  medidas judiciales urgentes, como la creación de una Unidad Especial de Investigación o asignación de un Funcionario Especial para cada caso, a fin de que indague y se conozca inmediatamente a los autores materiales e intelectuales, para que una sentencia condenatoria, genere confianza y la justicia opere como debe ser en un Estado de derecho.

He received threats owing to his exposés on local public servants’ corrupt behavior. The situation—as has been repeatedly pointed out by our union—called for an intervention by the Attorney General, such as the creation of a Special Investigation Unit or the assignment of a Special Officer for each case, in order to investigate and immediately determine the nature of the threats and individual authors, in order to facilitate trust and allow justice to operate as it should in a constitutional state.

For now, Colombian officials say the case is in prosecutor's hands.

Una investigación que aclare de manera pronta el asesinato del periodista Edgar ‘Quintín’ Quintero en Palmira, pidió la Defensoría del Pueblo Regional Valle del Cauca a la Fiscalía y la Policía de ese departamento. Para que se investiguen los dos asesinatos de Quintero el 2 de marzo y de Peralta el 14 de febrero, y finalizo expresando hechos graves.

The Ombudsman for Valle del Cauca asked the prosecutor and the police to conduct a prompt investigation into the murders of journalists Edgar ‘Quintin’ Quintero, in Palmira, on March 2, and Luis Peralta, on February 14, and to come to reach a conclusion quickly.

Our work building bridges across cultures, languages and perspectives is more urgent than ever before.

Learn more about Global Voices »

Donate now

Close