News

May 30, 2014 - Updated on January 20, 2016

New plot to murder investigative reporter Gonzalo Guillén


Reporters Without Borders is concerned about new threats to independent journalist Gonzalo Guillén in connection his coverage of the now imprisoned former governor of the northeastern department of La Guajira, Juan Francisco “Kiko” Gómez, and Gómez’s involvement with organized crime. Guillén, who reports for the Miami Herald and two Colombian newspapers, El Tiempo and El País de Cali, was notified by the prosecutor-general on 22 May of a new plan to murder him, the second in just over a year. He is said to have been in Gómez’s sights ever since writing about his close links with a “bacrim” (criminal gang formed by former paramilitaries) in La Guajira for the 4 May 2013 issue of the magazine Semana. After two armour-plated vehicles chased Guillén nine days ago, on 21 May, the number of bodyguards assigned to him by the interior ministry’s National Protection Unit was immediately increased from two to nine. “We recognize the authorities’ efforts to provide Guillén with adequate protection and we urge them to deploy all possible resources in order to identify those behind these threats,” said Camille Soulier, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas desk. “The work of independent journalists is essential at a time when corruption is affecting politics at all levels in Colombia,” Soulier added. Guillén’s reporting helped to secure Gómez’s arrest and subsequent conviction in October 2013 for masterminding three murders. Several of Guillén’s sources were murdered last year and he fled the country temporarily. Guillén works closely with two other independent journalists, León Valencia and Ariel Ávila, who wrote a long report last year about the relations between Gómez and the local bacrim and were the targets of the same murder plot. After a spell in self-imposed exile, they are now back in Colombia and are also getting interior ministry protection. Colombia is ranked 126th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.