Unknown men abduct radio journalist in Colombia

New York, July 26, 2012–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the kidnapping of a Colombian journalist and calls on authorities to secure her safe return. Élida Parra Alonso, who covers children’s rights and hosts a program for Sarare Estéreo radio station, was abducted from her home on Tuesday, according to news reports.  

Emiro Goyeneche, director of Sarare Estéreo in the northeastern state of Arauca, told CPJ that eyewitnesses saw two unidentified men abduct Parra from her house and force her into a vehicle. Goyeneche said that Parra covered children’s rights, which is a politically sensitive topic in the region, but was unaware if the journalist had received any threats.

Parra also does community outreach work for Oleoducto Bicentenario, a company that is constructing an oil pipeline that it says will be the largest in the country, local journalists told CPJ. Gina Paola Uribe Villamizar, an engineer for the pipeline, was also kidnapped from her home on Tuesday, according to news reports. News reports quoted authorities as saying the two abductions were linked, but did not offer details.

News accounts reported that no one had claimed responsibility for the abduction.

The National Liberation Army (ELN), a local guerrilla group, released a statement a few months ago that said anyone working for the pipeline would be considered a military target, according to a local journalist who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. Pipelines have long been targeted by guerrilla groups in Colombia’s armed conflict. The journalist also said that there was no evidence linking ELN to the abduction, but that authorities were continuing to investigate.

“Colombian authorities must fully investigate the abduction of Élida Parra Alonso, secure her safe return, and bring those responsible to justice” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas.

In September, Goyeneche told CPJ that journalists in Arauca often censor themselves so as not to upset the local guerrillas or the local authorities. The oil-rich state is a hot zone in Colombia’s armed conflict, according to CPJ research.

  • For more data and analysis on Colombia, visit CPJ’s Colombia page here.