Jaime Rengifo Revero

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Rengifo, a 48-year-old host for Radio Olímpica, was shot dead at around 6 a.m. by an unidentified gunman in the hallway of a hotel where the journalist lived in the northern town of Maicao, La Guajira Department, authorities reported.

The journalist was shot five times in the back while he was walking to his room at Hotel Venecia after drinking a cup of coffee in the lobby. The gunman, who had checked into the hotel under a false name the day before, fled on a motorcycle, said state police chief Col. Heriberto Naranjo.

Officials investigated reports that Rengifo was killed for comments made during his weekly morning program on Radio Olímpica, “Periodistas en acción” (Journalists in action). Rengifo frequently criticized state security forces for failing to bring security to the region and also accused local politicians of corruption, said James Vargas, the station’s production director. Leftist guerrillas and rival right-wing paramilitary forces fighting in the country’s decades-long civil conflict all operate in the lawless region.

Vargas said Rengifo had received death threats in the past. A month before the journalist was killed, someone scrawled the message “Death to Jaime Rengifo” on the side of a building in Maicao. Rengifo was also the publisher of an infrequently published newspaper called El Guajiro Quincenario.

In July 2010, a judge charged two former members of the United Self-Defense Forces with Rengifo’s murder. The two men, José Gregorio Álvarez Andrade and Jairo Alonso Samper Cantillo, were members of a bloc called Wayúu.