Journalist flees home after learning of alleged plot to kill him

JANUARY 15, 2008

Alexander Guerrero, Magangué Hoy, El Comunicador

Guerrero, a reporter for the Magangué-based dailies Magangué Hoy and El Comunicador, left his home in the northern Bolívar province after learning of an alleged plot to kill him, the journalist told CPJ. Guerrero said he believed the threats were retaliation for his reporting on local government corruption.

On December 31, 2007, as Guerrero was reporting on the last day in office of outgoing mayor Jorge Luis Alfonso López, he photographed several of Alfonso’s associates packing computers, fax machines, and other equipment from the Magangué mayor’s office into a truck. On January 2, 2008, Guerrero’s photographs appeared in Magangué Hoy and El Comunicado as well as the Cartagena-based daily El Universal.The images were also aired in the national television stations Caracol and RCN, the reporter told CPJ.

On the day the photographs were published, the reporter said, he was approached on the street by one of Lopez’s bodyguards, who told him to “get lost,” adding that “he was going to pay for it.” On January 5, Guerrero saw four unidentified individuals aboard two motorcycles parked outside his home. Days later, he was followed home by unidentified men in motorcycles.

On January 10, Anuar Arana Gechem, Magangué’s current mayor who had appointed Guerrero as his press secretary, informed the reporter of an alleged plot to kill him, Guerrero told CPJ. The reporter said he left Magangué on January 15 with a police escort provided by Arana.The journalist asked CPJ that his whereabouts remain unknown.