COLOMBIA: Threatened journalist flees the country


September 22, 2007

Original case: August 13, 2007

Juan Pablo Monsalve, RCN

Monsalve, a reporter for the nightly news program “La Noche” on national TV station RCN, was forced to flee Colombia in September after receiving death threats linked to his reporting on government corruption in Cantagallos, a small town in the northern province of Bolívar.

In the morning of September 22, Monsalve said, he was approached by Cantagallos’ mayor, Cesar Augusto Gil, at a Bogotá hotel. The reporter said he was waiting for a security escort assigned to him by RCN and the Bogotá police following repeated death threats in August. Gil told the reporter he was there coincidently and asked Monsalve about his investigation, which never aired. The mayor also told Monsalve that political groups in Cantagallos were responsible for the threats against him, the journalist said.

Monsalve told CPJ that he reported the conversation to RCN and local government authorities, who advised him to leave the country immediately. The reporter and his family left days later for an undisclosed location.

Monsalve, a Bogotá-based reporter, told CPJ that he traveled to Cantagallos in July to investigate allegations of local corruption. However, “La Noche” decided not to air the piece for lack of further information, the journalist told CPJ. In August, Monsalve received three anonymous calls to his cell phone from different individuals who asked who had paid for his reporting in Cantagallos. At least one of the callers, who identified himself as member of the right-wing paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), threatened to kill Monsalve.