Killings, threats and kidnappings of journalists continued to decrease over the last six months. This noteworthy development regarding press freedoms has continued for more than a year. Seven journalists were killed in 2003; and three in 2004. The Freedom of the Press Foundation reported 48 threats during 2003 and 23 during 2004. However, there is ongoing climate of intimidation and threats in various parts of the country, which has given rise to alarming levels of self-censorship by journalists living and working in areas witness to armed conflict. Two journalists were killed over the last six months, one of which was work-related, and the circumstances of the other have yet to be determined. Eighteen journalists received threats, 13 just in the city of Cúcuta. Two journalists went into exile and one was kidnapped and is still being held. Recent alarming events have included repeated dynamite attacks by FARC guerrillas against national television network offices and transmission towers. On the legislative front, two bills aimed at the Electoral and Juvenile Codes contain provisions that would lead to clear restrictions on freedom of information. The fact that the great majority of killings of journalists in the exercise of their profession remain unpunished is a long-term concern (54 between 1993 and 2004). The special unit established by the Office of the Attorney General in 1999 to handle crimes against journalists has not produced significant results since its creation 5 years ago. Most investigations remain in the evidentiary stage. Following is a time line of the most significant incidents: Five journalists reported death threats in October. They indcluded, Silvio Sierra, a journalist with Radio Súper and a reporter for the daily El País in Popayán ? for his reporting on criminal gangs, as well as four journalists with the Vanguardia Liberal and El Pilón newspapers located in the Cesar department. The journalists were threatened by a trucking company owner alleged to have relayed threatening messages from paramilitary forces in the region. The prosecutor's office called for extending the probe into the former mayor of Barrancabermeja, Julio César Ardila, already under investigation as the alleged mastermind behind the April 7, 2003 murder of José Emeterio Rivas, a journalist in that city. The prosecutor's office annunced that the investigative stage was closed, and a statement regarding the perpetrators of the killing is expected. The journalist, Claudia Julieta Duque, with the José Alvear law firm, left the country in November because of unremitting threats received during the past year. This followed her condemnation of irregularidades in the judicial process involving the killing of the journalist, Jaime Garzón. Lisandro Duque, a columnist for the El Espectador newspaper, was detained by authorities at the El Dorado airport in Bogotá, where he was served with an arrest warrant for ?contempt of court.? Duque had been sentenced to three days in prison and a fine equivalent to five monthly minimum salaries for failure to publish a retraction of accusations made in his column against the director of the film archive, ?Patrimonio Fílmico de Bogotá.? In December a team with the El Tiempo newspaper in the Mesetas municipality, Meta department, was held by FARC guerillas, and their camaras, recorders and vehicle taken. This was apparently in reprisal for a report describing the fear gripping the local population due to the guerrilla activities. A law protecting journalism and related activities was passed on December 15. This law, essentially symbolic, allows anyone to register as a journalist with the Ministry of Education, without this giving rise to additional benefits. On same day, a court in Barranquilla sentenced the newspaper La Libertad to pay 10 million pesos (four thousand dollars) for publishing a photo of innocent persons wrongly identified as being responsable for a theft. The judge's order ignored the fact that the newspaper corrected its error the following day. By the close of 2004, journalists for various media outlets reported they had been held by guerrilla forces in the Putumayo and Nariño border region. On January 11, 2005 Julio Hernando Palacios Sánchez, manager for Radio Lemas and editor of the Radio Magazine ?El Viento,? was gunned down in downtown Cúcuta, Department of Norte de Santander. Palacios was heading to work at 5:30 a.m., when he was killed in a hail of bullets fired by two gunmen on a motorcycle. Palacios was a hardhitting journalist and critic of Cúcuta government employees. On several occasions, complaints were made out against him for slander and he received warnings by a judge. Ten years earlier an attempt was made on his life and he had received threats. Two days later, Jorge Corredor, with the Cúcuta radiostation La Voz del Norte , fled the country, after paramilitary forces threatened to kill him. An attempt was made on Corredor's life the year before, killing his 20 year-old stepdaughter. Journalists in this city continue to live under a climate of fear. Journalists working in the department of Guajira reported that threats by armed groups kept them from reaching the foothills of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, where battles had left 40 dead. During the second week of January, the governor of the Department of Magdalena, Trino Luna Correa, and Police Chief, Colonel Oscar Gamboa, accused journalists in that region of fostering an image of a lack of safety for reporting on the crime wave rocking the city of Santa Marta. The Magdalena newspaper Hoy Diario rejected the statements by government officials and in reprisal the police chief removed the bodyguards assigned to the newspaper editor, Ulilo Acevedo Silva. This month two journalists reported death threats: Juan Alejandro Tapias, with El Heraldo , in Barranquilla, was threatened by members of vigilante groups for his reporting on the extortion of municipal market vendors; and Leonardo Montoya Garcés, editor of the ?El Martillo?, newspaper in the Chocó department, was threatened by the Chocó comptroller and a hospital director, who told him that he was going to go from ?hunter to hunted? for reporting on their luxury homes which clashed with the poverty in the department. Hernán Echeverri Arboleda, a photographer and a journalist with the newspaper, Urabá Hoy , was apparently kidnapped by members of the FARC in the Cañón de la Llorona , Urabá. The guerrillas accuse the photographer, who remains missing, of links to paramilitary forces in area. Enrique Herrera Araújo, a columnist with the newspaper Vanguardia Liberal published in the Cesar department, wrote that, ?It pains me to avoid writing opinion columns out of fear of provoking killers,? subsequent to receiving death threats for reporting on various administrative irregularities in the city of Valledupar. On January 31, the third anniversary of the death of Orlando Sierra Hernández, assistant editor for the daily La Patria , the paper criticized prosecutors' slow pace in bringing the killers to justice, and warned ?that there is a chain of criminal acts just as shady as the identity of the person that paid for the murder, and who remains at large thumbing their nose at the Colombian judicial system.? Nine persons who apparently had evidence in the investigation have been killed, and to date none of the killers have been identified. However, on November 30, prosecutors arrested the alleged intermediary in the murder and it is hoped that this will lead to the identification of the mastermind. On February 14, FARC guerrillas dynamited the radio transmission towers for Latina Stereo , an affiliate with the Caracol network, located in Vereda San Luis de Puerto Asís, Putumayo department. The radio was knocked off the air in a large part of the department. On February 19, 64-year-old Hernando Marné Sánchez Roldán, a photographer for more than 40 years, was killed in Tuluá in the Cauca valley. He worked with various media outlets, among them the Cali daily, El País . Although motives for the crime remain unknown, Marné Sánchez worked in a region with a heavy narco-paramilitary presence and the killing may be connected to his photojournalism. On February 20, the headquarters for RCN radio and television in Cali was the target of a carbomb severely damaging its facilities and injuring a technician and guard. The FARC, which usually refrains from claiming credit for attacks on the media (killings, bombs, kidnappings), took responsibility this time, alleging that the chain ?had become a loudspeaker for the military's false propaganda and an unofficial agent for the Colombian adminstration.? A comment by the vice president of Colombia, Francisco Santos to the effect that the media acted as ?loudspeakers? for terrorist acts sparked a wide-ranging debate and a wave of criticism by professional and union organizations. The vice president's statement, which coincided with the RCN bombing, should be viewed in that context and in view of his former position as the head of the copyediting department for El Tiempo newspaper. Santos recognized that he had gone too far. Claudia Gomajoa a radio journalist with Dorada Stereo in the Putumayo department left the region after denouncing that her life was in danger. She received threats after reporting on the murder of a businessman in the region and the kidnapping of another. The FARC continued its attacks on March 3, destroying the Caracol and RCN television transmission towers in Putumayo.