COLOMBIA In the six months since the Midyear Meeting, press freedom in Colombia has been plagued by extreme violence against journalists and legal restrictions dictated by the government or the courts. The following are the most important events in the last six months: March 17. Broadcasts of Radio Caracol and Radio Reloj in Cartagena were interrupted when a bomb explosion wrecked their joint transmission tower. The attack was attributed to guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN). May 25. Horacio Yepes Lozano, a columnist for the weekly El Tabloide and radio commentator in the city of Tulua, was killed by a group of armed men who ambushed his vehicle as he was driving. May 27. Abelardo Marín Pinzón, news director of the regional television station Telepacífico, was killed by a group of unidentified persons who shot at his car while he was driving. June 15. Two bombs exploded at the transmission centers ofRadio Caracol andRadio Cadena Nadonal during the Iberoamerican Summit in Cartagena. The attacks were attributed to left-wing groups. June 18. Two radio stations, La Voz de Santa Marta andAntena 2, of the RCN network, were bombed. The attack, by the guerrilla group ELN, destroyed transmission equipment and part of the buildings. There were no injuries. June 18. El Tiempo journalists sent a letter of protest to the Cuban ambassador in Colombia, Jesús Martínez, over the roughing up of reporter Alejandra Castellote by Cuban President Fidel Castro's bodyguards, while Casttellote was covering the Iberoamerican Summit. August 9. Edgar de Jesús Correa Rodríguez, a member of the Colombian Journalists Association and advertising chief for a transport agency in Urabá, was shot and killed by a man and a woman as he was leaving his office. August 9. Manuel Cepeda Vargas, 64, editor for the last 15 years of the newspaper Voz, official organ of the Communist Party, and also a Communist senator, was murdered in Bogotá. According to an eyewitness, an unidentified gunman shot Cepeda after approaching his caro Police attributed the murder to a paramilitary group called Colombia Sin Guerrillas (Colombia Without Guerrillas). September 3. Martín Eduardo Múnera, 48, a commentator for Radio Reloj, part of the Caracol network, and vice-president of the Caracol workers' union, was murdered in Medellín by an assailant who thrust a syringe contalning what appeared to be cyanide into his neck. Múnera was murdered as he was leaving his house to take a bus to work. Several members of the Caracol union have reportedthat they have received death threats in the past few months. September 8. Radio executive Germán Tobón Martínez, owner and manager of Radio Capital of Bogotá and Tolima FM Stereo, was murdered by unidentified persons who shot him through the head while apparently trying to steal his caro No one has been arrested and investigations continue. September 22. The Administrative Department for Security (DAS) arrestedJorge Alciro Tobón Olarte and charged him with the murder of El Espectador editor Guillermo Cano on December 17, 1986. Pablo Escobar, the chief of the Medellín drug cartel who was hunted down and killed by police on December 2, 1993, has been accused of being the brains behind the crime. October 7. A gunman killed journalist Orlando Villar Jiménez in a Bogotá tavern. Villar was a member of the communications team in Ernesto Samper's presidential campaign. The motives and authors of the crime remaln undetermined. In Colombia, an average of 65 murders are registered daily: more than 90 per cent of homicdes remain unsolved. Government and court actions affecting freedom of the press in the last six months include: June 18. The government declared that no opinion programs, political interviews or electoral forecasts could take place on election day. The National Media Association (Asomedios) protested what it considered "excessive controls" over the press during the recent election campaign. May 31. The Court of Cundinamarca rejected three appeals requesting protection from the newspaper El Tiempo and the television news programs Q.A.P. and CMI for presenting what the claimants said was unbalanced information in their police reporting. The court warned that the principle of equality and plurality could not be interpreted in such a nitpicking fashion. July 9. The Constitutional Court ruled that the police can confiscate books and other written material that violate the right to privacy. The ruling gave rise to a heated debate: because there is no clear legal definition of privacy in Colombia, judges and the police are left to interpret the law and thus could restrict press freedom. September 1. The Constitutional Court denied an appeal for protection filed against El Tiempo by Amnesty International, stemming from the publication of an advertisement by the self-styled National Committee of Guerrilla Victories. The Court ruled that media are not obliged to publish corrections for the contents of advertising, but called on the media to ensure advertisements do not violate individual rights or contain inaccuracies. September 11. President Ernesto Samper Pizano signed the Declaration of Chapultepec, in a ceremony attended by lAPA directors who traveled to Colombia for the occasion and by editors of the principal Colombian media. President Samper pledged that his government would defend the Declaration's principIes, which were widely reported in the local press. September 30. Citing defects in format, the Constitutional Court quashed public order regulations which had provided for penalties for transgressors and aban on the broadcast of interviews with, or communiques trom, guerrillas, drug-traffickers or other outlaw groups. The IAPA and Colombian press groups had repeatedly urged repeal of the measure. During October, several writs of protection were filed against the press, the most significant being the following: El Tiempo was ordered to correct an assertion by two editorial columnists that Bishop Darío Castrillón had received money from drug-traffickers in 1984. The correction was demanded even though the bishop himself had admitted the fact at the time and the newspaper had provided the court with press clippings, including quotations from the bishop, and radio tapes containing his statements at the time. But the court concluded that the editorialists had engaged in harmful value judgments. This writ of protection is of particular concern because it establishes a legal precedent under which op-ed pieces can give rise to legal action. The television news program "24 Horas" lost a lawsuit brought by a former commander of the Cali Investigatory Squad over the program's broadcast of a video in which the officer appeared in his underwear together with a woman connected with the Cali cartel. The court ruled that the official's right to privacy had been violated. The news program "Q.A.P." was forced to air a correction as a result of a lawsuit filed by the former auditor general despite his twice having been offered space on the news program to defend himself. In summary, the violence against journalists continues in Colombia, but now appears to be more a part of a generalized situation in the country than action specifically directed at journalists as was the trend previously. What is most serious is that such cases go unpunished. The issuance by judges of writs of protection against the media is also of concern, but legal defense safeguards are in place.