Miami (March 27, 2009)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed shock on learning that the Colombian authorities had halted an attempt by Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas on the life of the organization’s president, Enrique Santos Calderón, editor of the Bogotá newspaper El Tiempo.
Robert Rivard, chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, and editor of the San Antonio Express-News, Texas, declared, “This news shocked us and while we are relieved that the government has uncovered and thwarted this sinister plot we do hope that the necessary steps are taken to ensure that the lives of all journalists are not at risk.”
The murder plot, attributed to a FARC guerrilla faction, also targeted the IAPA president’s brother, Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, and other members of his family. According to seized documents the killings were to take place at the end of Easter Week on a family farm in the municipality of Anapoima.
Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe reported yesterday that police arrested 10 guerrillas who had police uniforms, weapons and a well-orchestrated plan for the murders. The guerrillas were captured in the municipalities of Anapoima and Girardot, in Cundinamarca Department, located 28 and 54 miles, respectively, from Bogotá, and in Pitalito, Huila Department, some 230 miles south of the capital.
In a statement posted last night on El Tiempo’s Web site, Enrique Santos Calderón said, “The police had already alerted me to a FARC plot to murder me, which of course left me speechless. It appears that given the difficulty of getting to the Defense Minister they settled on me as a target. It's very troublesome and symptomatic that they are plotting personal attacks of this kind. Being a journalist, as my sole job in life, I can't but feel intimidated and attacked.”