Friday, May 3, 2013

Colombia: Investigative Journalist Evades Assassination Attempt Near Capital

According to Semana, a Colombian news magazine, a prominent investigative journalist, Ricardo Calderón, emerged unharmed after two gunmen fired shots at his car on Wednesday (May 1).

The attack occurred when Calderón stopped at a highway toll gate, some 64 kilometers (40 miles) from Bogotá, after having spoken with sources as part of an investigation into alleged irregularities in the management of a military fort.

Fortunately for the victim, he had picked up on the fact that he was being followed. When he stopped at a toll gate a gray vehicle with tinted windows suddenly blocked his way, at which point two men exited their vehicle and called out his name. 

When he acknowledged his name, the two men began firing at him, at which point he sought cover on the ground, although he later realized that his assailants had hit his vehicle five times.

COMMENT: Calderón uncovered illegal government surveillance and wiretapping of journalists, judges and opposition politicians during the 2002-2010 administration of President Alvaro Uribe, a factor that ultimately placed Santos and Uribe at odds, even though Santos had served as minister of defense during the Uribe presidency.
The journalist's uncle, incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, commented on the attack via Twitter, saying: “I have asked the Director of Police (José Roberto León Riaño) to personally take charge of the investigation to find those responsible for this offensive deed.”

As in most Latin American countries, few investigative reporters reach old age in Colombia, particularly if they set out to expose the vulnerabilities of opposition parties.

It is to Caldeón's credit that he learned early on to develop a keen sense of personal security awareness, developing the unique skill of surveillance detection that few journalists ever quite develop a feel for.