Provincial journalist flees home after death threats

FEBRUARY 13, 2008Posted March 14, 2008

Rogelio Prado Rodríguez, Radio Tropical, Cadena Radial Súper, El Nuevo DíaTHREATENED

Prado, a reporter for Ibagué-based radio stations Radio Tropical and Cadena Radial Súper and the daily El Nuevo Día, fled his home in central Tolima province after receiving four invitations to his own funeral, the journalist told CPJ. Prado, who was previously threatened, believes the recent threats are a result of his continuous reporting on administrative irregularities in the local government.

On February 7, Prado received four anonymous cards at his apartment in Ibagué, Tolima’s capital, announcing his funeral. On February 13, the reporter left for Bogotá after reporting the incident to local authorities. According to Prado, the cards are linked to previous incidents.

The journalist said the threats against him began in May 2006, when he reported from Melgar, a small city in Tolima, on 10 cases of administrative irregularities by the local government for Radio Tropical. His report resulted in an official investigation by the Tolima comptroller’s office, Guerrero told CPJ. Weeks later, however, unidentified individuals left bags full of rotting animal viscera in his backyard.

In October, 2007, Prado published an article in El Nuevo Día detailing how the local government misappropriated more than 25 billion Colombian pesos (US$13 million) in royalties from locally operating oil companies. That same week, he began receiving intimidating calls urging him to leave Melgar. Prado told CPJ that his car was also vandalized. Fearing for his life, the reporter left for Ibagué but continued to receive notes at his new apartment telling him to “shut up and leave.” Guerrero said he informed local and national authorities.