COLOMBIA The Colombian press in the last six months has demonstrated a vigorous capacity for maintaining a critical and independent stance in the face of the political crisis that has enveloped the government of President Ernesto Sam per, despite renewed violence against journalists and a persistent hostile attitude on the part of the judicial and legislative branches of government. Guerrillas continue their attacks on the media. Two journalists have been killed in cases that so far remain unsolved. The fact that violence against journalists goes unpunished is a cause for concern, as is the legislature's persistent attempts to restrict or regulate press activities. The following are the most signficant recent events concerning press freedom in Colombia: April 3, 1995. President Samper's cabinet members issued a communique accusing La Prensa, a newspaper owned by the family of former president Misael Pastrana, of carrying out a defamation campaign against government institutions. The newspaper had published several statements concerning alleged contributions of the Cali drug cartel to Samper and printed a photo-montage of the president which the government considered offensive. Several media criticized the cabinet members' document as excessive and unnecessary. It prompted a letter of protest from Pastrana to the IAPA. Later, the cabinet members clarified that, although their statement had been issued jointly, it represented their personal opinions, not the government view. April 6, 1995. The editor of Diaria Vallenata of Valledupar, Lolita Acosta, escaped unharmed in an attempted attack by a gunman waiting for her at the newspaper door. The motive and authors of the attack are still unknown. April 7, 1995. Two presidential security service agents conducted a search of Semana's publishing plant after the magazine printed a report about financial contributions Samper had allegedly received from drug traffickers. Later, the magazine advised the presidency of the incident, and the government fired the two agents from their posts, but not from the security service itself, April 9, 1995. Journalists from various television news programs received death threats after their stations broadcast images of the searched residences of several Cali Cartel leaders. The government condemned the threats and offered protection to the journalists, some of whom left the city. The Rodriguez Orejuela brothers, the Cali Cartel's top leaders, sent a letter to the press denying that they had issued the threats. April 12, 1995. The government prohibited press interviews in maximum security jails, citing a special set of rules for prison security. The measure was passed after three television stations broadcast extensive statementss by jailed guerrilla leader Gerardo Bermudez, in which he rejected government peace proposals and justified armed struggle. April 18, 1995. The radio station Cadena Radial Autentiea of Medellin was hit by a dynamite blast, which police attributed to the guerrilla group ELN. According to the police, the station owner had refused to submit to the guerrilla group's extortion attempts. April 20, 1995. Journalist and political leader Gildardo Ariza was murdered at his farm in Velez, Santander, by a lone gunman who shot him twice in the head. Ariza hosted a Sunday program on the radio station "Carare on the Air" and also was a member of the political movement Liberal Alternatives. Who committed the crime - and why - remains unknown. April 30, 1995. An armed group, a dissident faction of M-19, kidnapped journalists Alvaro Mina of Radio Caraeol and Miguel Plata of Telepacifieo in Riofrio, Cauca. The two were freed a few days later. They were given statements and messages by the guerrillas. May 10, 1995. A news team from El Tiempo, which was investigating the lack of teachers in the Casanare region, was assaulted by an armed group of ELN guerrillas. The journalist, photographer and driver were freed after a few hours, but the guerrillas stole their vehicle, three cameras and money. May 25, 1995. The Senate approved an anti-corruption law seriously affecting press freedom. Under the pretext of right to confidentiality in preliminary proceedings, article 33 of the law prohibits the media from reporting on ongOing investigations of government officials on corruption charges until a final verdict has been reached. The measure was unanimously protested by the press, which declared that it hindered journalistic investigations and accusations of offidal corruption. Two months later, the attorney general's office ruled the measure unconstitutional because it restricted press freedom. and the right of dtizens to information. The measure also contradicted several essential pOints of the Declaration of Chapultepec, recently signed and ratified by President Samper. The matter is presently under study by the Supreme Court. June 13, 1995. Armed men hired by one of the leaders of the Cali Cartel, Henry Loaiza, known as "The Scorpion," broke into the premises of television news program Noti 5 of Cali and threatened to retaliate against journalists if they continued to report on the extent of Loaiza's holdings. August 8, 1995. Ramiro Bejarano, director of the Administrative Department of Security (DAS), filed a criminal suit against La Prensa editor Juan Carlos Pastrana for publishing information linking him to the alleged theft of a document from the attorney general's office. La Prensa called Bejarano's suit an attempt by the head of the secret police to intimidate the newspaper. August 17, 1995. Four ELN guerrillas killed the manager of the radio station Llanoramica, Ivan Dario Pelayo, in Puerto Rond6n, Arauca. Pelayo was shot down as he stood in front of the radio broadcasting console. The guerrillas left flyers in which they asserted they had executed Pelayo as an enemy of the people and an ally of paramilitary groups. April 25, 1995. U.S. sdence journalist Thomas Hargrove was set free by guerrillas after having been kidnapped for almost lln months. His abductors demanded $3 million in ransom. Hargrove worked for the International Tropical Agriculture Center (CIAT), which refused to pay any ransom. September 20, 1995. The Senate strongly attacked the press in a debate with the attorney general. Several congressmen demanded stronger restriction of press activities. Senator Alberto Santofimio, who initiated the debate, presented a bill to amend article 20 of the Constitution to do away with what he called the pressure of intimidation by the press. He accused the media of being "moral kidnappers." October 3,1995. A judge in Medellin ordered the confiscation of a book about the murder of soccer star Andres Escobar, written by journalist Cesar Mauricio Velasquez. The court order resulted from a writ of protection against Velasquez by a prosecutor in Medellin accused in the book of improper conduct in the murder investigation. The author appealed the writ of protection in the Superior Court of Medellin. Velasquez has been threatened because of his accusations and, a week after the book came out, on September 23, the publishing house in Cali was riddled with bullets. October 9, 1995. Criminal Court 73 in Bogota sentenced five persons to between 16 and 25 years in jail for the murder of Guillermo Cano, editor of El Espectador. Cano was murdered in 1986 by hitmen from the Medellin Cartel. Only one of the sentenced persons is actually under arrest. In summary, Colombia maintains the general panorama set forth in the last IAPA assembly. However, it is worth noting that attacks against journalists by drug cartels have diminished as part of the process of their dismantling. Attacks by guerrillas on journalists, however, have increased. The legislative, and sometimes the judicial, branches of government continue to threaten the media and show no let-up in their campalgn to restrict and tame the press.