La Rotta, radio host and owner of local radio station La Palma
Estéreo in the small town of San Alberto in northeastern Cesar
province, was stabbed to death in his living room while watching
television. According to CPJ research, friends rushed La Rotta to a
nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
La Rotta, 51, founded La Palma Estéreo, a station that generally
played popular music, in 1999. His family told CPJ that he also hosted
the morning news program “El Amanecer del Campo” (The Awakening of the
Countryside), on which he reported national news.
According to regional press reports, La Rotta constantly questioned
paramilitary presence in San Alberto, and said citizens were being
forced to pay illegal taxes. A family member who asked not to be
identified told CPJ that armed men often intimidated the station’s
staff and demanded La Rotta stop his commentary.
La Rotta’s family told CPJ that on the day of the murder, the radio host was planning to flee San Alberto fearing for his life.
On May 16, 2007, Juan Francisco Prada Márquez Prada, also known as
Juancho Prada, a demobilized leader of the Héctor Julio Peinado Front,
an arm of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) in the Cesar
province, confessed to La Rotta’s killing during a private hearing with
prosecutors in the port city of Barranquilla, according to Colombian
press reports. Jaime Maldonado, a local lawyer assigned to the case,
told CPJ that Prada said he ordered the murder because he was tired of
La Rotta’s comments on the radio.