José Eli Escalante

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Escalante, a correspondent for the radio station La Voz de Cinaruco (Voice of Cinaruco) in the town of Esmeralda, Arauca Department, was shot and killed while returning home from his mother’s gravesite, authorities told CPJ.

A spokesperson for the Arauca Department Police confirmed that the journalist was shot three times but was unable to provide further details about the murder because officials had lost the report on the crime.

Escalante had worked for eight years as a part-time correspondent for the station, said station news director José Domingo Pitta. The journalist, 55, covered community news in Esmereada but, according to Domingo, tried to avoid reporting on sensitive political topics and Colombia’s civil conflict.

Escalante resigned from his position as an Esmeralda town councilman in July after the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) threatened to kill all of Colombia’s elected municipal leaders unless they resigned, said Domingo. He told CPJ that Escalante had never been threatened personally.

According to Domingo, there are no suspects or a motive in the killing. Local investigators could not be reached for comment.

Both the FARC and the smaller leftist National Liberation Army, or ELN, are active in the region, but no armed group has taken responsibility for the killing.