Colombian journalist stabbed to death in Cartago

New York, September 5, 2007–Colombian journalist Javier Darío Arroyave was stabbed to death this morning in Cartago, a city in the western Valle del Cauca Province. The Committee to Protect Journalists is investigating possible links between Arroyave’s murder and his journalism.

Arroyave, news director for the Cartago-based radio station Ondas del Valle and host of the news program “¿Cómo les parece?,” was found dead this morning at his home in Cartago, according to press reports. The journalist, 41, had been stabbed earlier this morning, Col. Armando Burbano of the Cartago Police told CPJ. Although his laptop computer was missing, there were no signs of a forced entry, Col. Ricardo Restrepo, head of the Valle del Cauca Police, told local reporters.

“We are saddened by the death of Javier Dario Arroyave and send our condolences to his family and friends,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “We call on the authorities to investigate his killing and bring those responsible to justice.”

Colleagues at Onda del Valle, which is affiliated with national Caracol Radio, said Arroyave presented general political and social news that was not particularly critical of the government. Arroyave also worked for the state environmental organization Corporación Autónoma Regional del Valle del Cauca, according to colleagues. He had worked as a Cartago correspondent for the national daily El Tiempo until 2005, and was recently a freelance contributor for the paper, a source at El Tiempo said.

In May 2005, Arroyave canceled his news program temporarily after continuous pressure from then Cartago mayor, Luis Alberto Castro, whom the journalist accused of corruption, said Carlos Cortés executive director of local press freedom group Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa. Arroyave had not mentioned receiving threats in recent months, colleagues at Ondas del Valle told CPJ.

Burbano told CPJ that investigators believe the murder was a crime of passion but colleagues said they have not discounted Arroyave’s journalism as a possible motive.

Cartago is a small city 125 miles (200 kilometers) west of Bogotá. In recent weeks, members of the anti-guerrilla special forces of the Colombian military were arrested in Cartago for their links with local drug trafficking cartels, according to the Mexican daily Milenio.