The decrease in the number of murders of journalists was interrupted with the deaths of Gustavo Rojas Gabalo and Milton Fabián Sánchez, both linked to radio stations in their regions, Cordoba and the Valle del Cauca respectively. It has not been determined if a third murder, that of Atilano Segundo Pérez, was because of his work as a journalist Threats against journalists continued to increase. Between March and September, 45 journalists were threatened, according to reports to the Foundation for Press Freedom. It is more and more troubling that legislators, public officials and even the president discredit the news and investigative projects presented by the media. This attitude could harm the credibility and confidence in the media. Nevertheless, according to the most recent survey this month by Gallup Colombia, the media are the institution with the most credibility among the public. The Senate agreed to most of the requests made by the Association of Colombian Newspapers (Andiaros) with respect to the new Children’s Code. The proposals that were approved respect the media’s freedom and autonomy to define their content. At this time, there is more concern about a tax reform bill that would impose a 10 percent tax on newsprint and other taxes on advertising for small papers that now are exempted from them. The texts of other bills concerning elections are being studied. They would limit advertising, the reporting of polls and news balance. Following are the most important developments during this period: The announcer Gustavo Rojas Gabaldo was attacked by hit men on February 4 in Montería, Córdoba. He was shot in the head and the clavicle. The journalist was 56 and had nine children. He had broad radio experience. He criticized local governments and the political class of Cordoba on his program, “El Show del Gaba.” The IAPA’s Rapid Reaction Unit established that he was murdered because of his reports against the relationship of the local power struction with paramilitary forces in the health field. He was hospitalized for a month and a half. A week before his death, three of the alleged hit men were arrested. The authorities said they were demobilized paramilitary fighters. Senator Humberto Gómez Gallo spoke on two radio stations in Tolima to request a boycott of the daily El Nuevo Día. “We Tolimenses should begin a boycott of El Nuevo Dìa. We should not buy this newspaper, we should not advertise in it…because of its disgraceful actions,” the senator said. He had been criticized by the newspaper. Hollman Morris, director of the television program “Contravía,” reported that an alleged organization called Social Front for Peace (FSP) made public a video calling him an international spokesman for the guerrilla group FARC. In the tape the Rev. Javier Giraldo, journalist Hollman Morris, the former mayor of Apartado Gloria Caurtas and former presidential candidate Álvaro Leyva are called “international spokesmen for the FARC.” In April, there was a strong controversy in the media after President Álvaro Uribe accused the editor of the magazine Semana, Alejandro Santos of lying. He was referring to a news story about alleged paramilitary infiltration in the Public Safety Department (DAS). The Liberal Party proposed a formal interrogation of the president to ask him about his statements against the magazine. The Congress shelved the bill to broaden the range of crimes of libel by journalists and editors. Daniel Muñoz, a photographer for the international press agency Reuters, was attacked by a policeman during demonstration by truck drivers in the capital. The photographer reported that the policeman hit him in the face with a shield and broke his teeth to prevent Muñoz from taking pictures of the policeman attacking a citizen. On April 27, the attorney general’s office charged Pablo Emilio Quintero Dodino and Bolmar Said Sepúlveda with the murder of journalist José Emeterio Rivas on April 7, 2003 in Barrancabermeja, Santander. At the same time, the attorney general’s office closed the investigation of Julio César Ardila Torres, the former mayor of Barrancabermeja, who was suspected of having planned the crime. However, he was charged with sedition. Pedro Cárdenas, editor of the magazine La Verdad, left Tolima in May after his life was threatened. Two funeral wreaths were delivered to his home in the city of Honda. The journalist said this happened after the publication of two articles reporting corruption in the local government. Cardenas had returned to the country at the beginning of the year, after being exiled because of threats since 2004. Rubén Darío Correa, Alexander Correa and César Valencia of the radio station La Cariñosa of RCN of Ibabué, Tolima, said politician Rubiel Espinosa Triana had called them “terrorists of the microphone,” after they had reported his participation in the irregular gift of a public space. On June 1, the news agency Noticias Colprensa reported that the authorities and officials of the ombudsman’s office in Bogota pretended to be journalists to disarm a false suicide bomber who caused panic in the office. He entered and threatened to blow himself up if they did not comply with his demands. The editor of the newspaper El Heraldo of Barranquilla, Gustavo Bell Lemus and the columnists Ernesto McCausland Sojo and Armando Benedetti Jimeno were threatened with package bombs and death announcements left at their homes. Both men had been reporting about corruption and crime in their city. In July journalist Herbin Hoyos said he had been threatened and given 72 hours to leave Colombia. He said the threat arrived a few hours after a broadcast of the radio program “Voices of Kidnapping,” in which he reported alleged irregularities in the process of extraditing to the United States of several prisoners of the Cómbita jail in Boyacá province. Hoyos said the threat came through the “Voices of Kidnapping” Web page which he edits. On July 27, Andrés Darío Cervantes Montoya, alias “El Chiche,” admitted to a prosecutor that he killed Efraín Alberto Varela Noriega on June 28, 2002 in Arauca and accepted a plea deal. The bullet-riddled body of Varela Noriega, news director of radio station Meridiano 70 of Arauca, was found after the “Winners Bloc” of the paramilitary forces of that region accused him of collaborating with guerrillas. On August 9, Milton Fabián Sánchez of radio station Yumbo Estéreo was killed in Valle by two hit men on a motorcycle who shot him five times in the head as he left his house. The journalist, who conducted community radio programs, directed the institutional programs of the Yumbo and La Personería city governments. At the latter site, he had denounced the proliferation of drug sales and invasions in the high risk area where he lived. His recent statements had caused to authorities to announce that houses used to sell hallucinogens would be seized. On August 12, Gloria Carvajal, sister of journalist Nelson Carvajal Carvajal, who was murdered in Pitalito, Huila on April 16, 1998, left the country along with Estela Bolaños, widow of the journalist and their two daughters. It was considered that their safety could not be guaranteed if they stayed in the town of Pitalito in Huila province. They reported that the children had been followed by strangers since last year and Estela had received threatening calls. On August 22, Atilano Segundo Pérez, a former legislator and radio journalist of Bolivar province was shot twice by a man in front of his wife and one of his children. Pérez Barrios was a deputy in the Bolivar state legislature between 1995 and 1997. He also was a councilman in the town of Marialabaja and for four years had been working at radio station Todelar. In the program “Diario de Marialabaja,” Pérez repeatedly criticized public administration and problems of the community. Nevertheless, the motive for the murder has not been established. Congressman Julio Gallardo Archbold said, “Some journalists are more like moral hit men.” He made the statement when several media outlets criticized alleged irregularities in the purchase of laptop computers for legislators when Gallardo was leader of the Chamber of Representatives. At the end of August, the IAPA and the Association of Colombian Newspapers (Andiarios) asked the attorney general’s office and authorities in Magdalena province, to guarantee the safety of Ulilo Acevedo Silva, editor of the newspaper Hoy Diario del Magdalena, who had to leave the country because of threats. Acevedo wrote in an editorial published on August 25 that he had received death threats and knew about a plan to attack the newspaper. He said that the problem occurred “because of criticism in the newspaper about the president of the University of Magdalena, Carlos Eduardo Caicedo Omar.” The journalist said the articles led to the arrest of the official by the attorney general’s office on charges of irregularities in his work as a public servant. In a letter to IAPA, the university president denied having anything to do with the threats or plans to attack Acevedo and his newspaper. In September a judge in Bogota dismissed a case brought against the magazine SoHo for insulting religious symbols and libel. He closed every proceeding brought against the magazine when it published a representation of The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci with a nude model surrounded by political figures. Four years after the murder of journalist Orlando Sierra, assistant editor of the daily La Patria of Manizales, the prosecutor’s office ordered a session to hear a “spontaneous declaration” from Ferney Tapasco, former leader of the provincial legislature of Caldas. His name was mentioned as a suspect by three witnesses more than a year ago. On the other hand, the Human Rights Unit in Bogota reopened the cases of Carlos Lajud Catalán and Gustavo Ruiz Cantillo, which had been suspended. The cases were brought from Barranquilla and Santa Maria, respectively.