Controversy surrounds investigation into radio station bomb attack

Bogotá, April 19, 2002—The campaign of presidential front-runner Álvaro Uribe Vélez said earlier this week that a radio network in central Colombia was targeted for a deadly April 7 bomb attack because the station had broadcast the candidate’s speeches. But network officials denied the claims and said the statements endangered the lives of their staff, CPJ has learned.

Two explosions killed 12 people and shattered the windows of a Radio Súper office in the town of Villavicencio, about 40 miles southeast of the capital, Bogotá.

Police blamed Colombia’s largest rebel army—the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)—for the attack, but said the group may have meant to hit a nearby police station.

On Wednesday, April 17, Myrna Mayer, foreign press coordinator for Uribe, alleged to CPJ that the bombings were a reprisal against Radio Súper for airing the candidate’s speeches.

According to Mayer, FARC fighters had threatened the station a week before the attack because of the broadcasts.

However, Radio Súper vice president Heny Pava denied those claims and said they put the network’s employees at risk by suggesting that the network is supporting Uribe’s candidacy. Uribe has promised to crack down on guerrilla violence if elected.

“By linking Radio Súper to Uribe, they’ve made us all targets,” said Pava.

Radio Súper owns 25 stations throughout Colombia, three of which are based in Villavicencio.