Bogotá, April 11, 2002—A Colombian television reporter received a death threat last week after reporting extensively on the country’s left-wing guerrilla movement, CPJ has learned.
Carlos José Lajud works for the Bogotá station Citytv. On April 4, Lajud received a letter at the Citytv offices. “Our sincere condolences…for the death of Carlos Lajud,” read the note, a copy of which was obtained by CPJ.
The letter referred to Lajud as a “gossipy son-of-a-bitch,” accused the journalist of serving the interests of Colombia’s ruling class, declared him and his family military targets, and demanded that he leave the country within three days.
Since February, Lajud has produced some 20 investigative reports claiming that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the smaller National Liberation Army (ELN) have established armed cells in the capital.
Lajud detailed the organizational structures of these new urban guerrilla groups, showed how they bought explosives, and revealed that one cell had opened a clandestine clinic to treat its wounded, the journalist told CPJ.
“We remain deeply concerned for our Colombian colleagues, who endure extreme physical risk to cover their country’s ongoing civil conflict,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “We deplore these threats and urge local authorities to find and prosecute the perpetrators.”
The letter was the most serious of several threats against Lajud that began in late February, just three days after his reports on the new urban guerrilla groups began to air.
On February 27, strangers began calling Lajud and his wife, Patricia Busigo, at their home and describing their daily routines. In March, at a park near the television station, an unknown man grabbed Lajud by the arm, said he had a “big mouth,” and predicted he would “disappear.”
Lajud claims not to know the source of the threats but is currently trying to leave the country. The journalist has a bodyguard provided by the Interior Ministry’s Program for the Protection of Journalists and Social Communicators.
Lajud is the son of the late radio journalist Carlos Alfonso Lajud Catalán. In 1993, Catalán was shot and killed after he publicly accused a local mayor of corruption.