May 19, 2011 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Contract-style killing of newspaper columnist in Aragua state

Local newspaper columnist and politician Wilfred Ojeda Peralta was found murdered in La Victoria, in the northern state of Aragua, on 17 May after disappearing the day before. Local press reports quoted relatives as saying they were not aware of his having any enemies. Reporters Without Borders calls on the police to quickly establish who killed him and why. So far there are no clues as to the motive but the method suggests that it was a contract killing carried out at the behest of organized crime. His body was found with a hood over the head and with the hands and feet tied. He had been killed by single shot to the head. Traces of blood were found in his abandoned pick-up. Aged 56, married and the father of two children, Ojeda had written a column called “Critical Dimension” every Monday for the past 22 years for the regional daily El Clarín. He was also a member of the opposition Democratic Action party who had been a representative in the Aragua state legislature and had held various municipal and regional posts. “Our thoughts are with Ojeda’s family and colleagues,” Reporters Without Borders said. “While it is too early for any theories about the motive, we note that organized crime is a major menace in the region and was behind the last murder of a journalist in Venezuela, that of Orel Sambrano in January 2009.” Reporters Without Borders hopes the Ojeda murder investigation will be as successful as the Sambrano one, which led to the arrest of the presumed killers, Víctor Reales and Álvaro Ospino, in Colombia on 15 May.