During this period an increase has been noted in the number of bills in the legislature that affect the economic situation of the media; with restrictions on official advertising, limits on newspaper street vendors and a tax reform that will affect some tax benefits. Harassment of media and newspapers continues through restraining orders and lawsuits for libel and slander. On the positive side, it has been possible to neutralize a number or restrictions in several bills that were retired or modified under arguments presented by Andiarios. On February 29 the Penal section of the Superior Court of Cundinamarca ratified the lower-level ruling issued by a judge in Fusagasugá against journalist Luis Agustín González for the crime of slander but absolved him of libel, also modifying the initial sentence, twenty months in prison and the payment of twenty monthly minimum wages, to eighteen months in prison and seventeen months of wages. The sentence came about as the result of the publication of an editorial in 2008 which questioned the political aspirations of the former governor of Cundinamarca, Leonor Serrano de Camargo. In the second-level decision, the court considered that the critical comments contained in the editorial titled “NO MORE!,” published in December 2008, and which warned of her aspiration to return to the Federal Congress, harmed the moral integrity of the political leader. In the same decision, the Court considered that Luis Agustín González did not attribute the commission of any crime to Serrano and therefore absolved him of libel. The use of actions of various sorts has increased, especially in regard to the crimes of libel and slander, and civil cases of liability as mechanisms of pressure against the media and journalists. If the majority of decisions are favorable to them, the very existence of the cases constitutes a mechanism of pressure and generates self-censorship. The digital newspaper Primera Página recently denounced the harassment to which its general editor, Hector Mario Rodríguez has been subject for the demands of economic panic related to information of an economic nature on companies in the mining sector. The decision made at the second level on February 2, 2012 is a concern. Taken by the Council of State, it orders authorities in Bogota to remove sidewalk vendors and their pitchmen from public spaces. In the lower-level decision the pitchmen had been excluded because their activity was considered necessary to preserve the full right of freedom of the press. Also of concern are constant legislative attempts to impose on newspapers and other media obligations and prohibitions related to dissemination of content. The following efforts are now being made in this regard: Bill 142 of 2011, which attempts to adopt a new Electoral Code. It contains a number of points that violate freedom of the press related to the dissemination of election information and publication of poll results. In addition, it provides restrictions on political advertising. Bill 130/10 Chamber-070/11 Senate which imposes upon the media, including newspapers, the obligation to publish official bulletins related to the national system of early alert, which, if it has the noble purpose of the protection of children, missing persons, the elderly, and the disabled, it fails to recognize editorial autonomy. Bill 205/12 Senate,which prohibits the media “to make broadcasts or publications that promote public performances that offend the life and integrity of animals as elements that incite young people to violence.” Bill 27/11 Senate, which provides for very ambiguous, subjective rules related to advertising of alcoholic beverages that could generate interpretations that would exceed internationally-approved limits. During this period several measures have been adopted that affect newspapers economically, among them the following: Reduction of official advertising by 30% (anti-corruption statute); Elimination of announcements of bidding processes and other announcements of laws by the government which, in addition to restricting the transparency of government actions, will have serious effects on the finances of newspapers. In addition, underway in Congress (lacking only the fourth and final debate) is a new General Process Code, which substantially reduces the advertising of laws related to judicial processes. These rules, in addition to possibly affecting due process, will generate a serious reduction of newspapers’ income. Imposition of government fees related to putting on educational and cultural activities. On the positive side, a number of bills have been retired, suspended or modified that contain rules prejudicial to the press, such as: The filing of Bill 56/11 Senate-019/10 Chamber, which for the praiseworthy purpose of preventing kidnapping, obliges newspapers to publish official alerts related to the disappearance of minors, thus violating editorial autonomy. Bill 277 of 2011 Chamber – 17 of 2011 Senate was modified for the purpose of eliminating obligations of the media regarding the promotion and dissemination of mechanisms for return of residues from electrical and electronic devices (RAEE), and with the denunciation of mismanagement of such residues, which implies the imposition of content. Bill 280 of 2011 Chamber – 010 Senate (now Law 11503 of 2011) to eliminate restrictions on informative and advertising content related to road safety. A bill was suspended (which was reported earlier) that would adopt a new Electoral Code. A very positive development was the preparation of Bill 156/11, added to 146/11 Senate, “by means of which a law is created on transparency and the right of access to national public information, and other provisions.” Some asspects of the bill need to be revised for the purpose of avoiding interpretations that could affect journalistic activity. Other events highlighted during this period: Twenty-nine cases of threats were recorded during the period, but there were no murders for reasons of practicing the profession. In October, Ana María Ferrer was threatened, a journalist on the television program “La Cuarta Columna” and member of the Board of Directors of the newspaper El Pilón of Valledupar; according to early information the threats probably came from the criminal gang Urabeños. The director of the Periódico del Meta, Hector Gómez Argüello was threatened with death through a pamphlet left at the building where the media functions in the capital of the department of Meta, on December 18th. The journalist had already received threats before, in March 2011, after which he began to have police protection. The Foundation for Freedom of the Press (FLIP) expressed its concern over intimidations against journalist Claudia Julieta Duque and her minor-age daughter, which occurred a few days after the first inquiries against workers of the DAS, investigated as the people who were presumed to be responsible for the psychological torture of Duque. In the early days of the month of January, the journalist and her daughter were meeting with her attorney in a neighborhood in Bogota, and detected suspicious stalking movements of a taxi and a motorcycle which went around her house and the place where they would later meet during the day. The daughter took some photographs of what happened and a short time later received a text message on her cellphone with insults sent from an unknown cell number. Since 2004 the journalist had been criminally denouncing the persecutions and threats against her and her daughter. When the scandals broke about DAS wiretaps, it was supposed that the threats came from that entity. Duque continues to be harassed as a result of a journalistic investigation she did on possible irregularities in the homicide case of the journalist and humorist Jaime Garzón in August 1999. This case has been mentioned previously in this report. In February a judge in Santa Marta in Magdalena sentenced Edgar Córdoba, an ex-paramilitary, to twenty-four years in prison for the murder of Alvaro Alonso Escobar, which happened in December 2001. Escobar was the leader of the local newspaper. The instigator of the crime took a plea bargain. The same month the Prosecutor’s Office attributed to paramilitary members Jesús Emiro Pereira Rivera, Alejandro Cárdenas Orozco, and Mario Jaimes Mejía, the crimes of abduction, torture and sexual assault against journalist Jineth Bedoya, which happened on May 25, 2000. Also in February, Bladimir Sánchez Espitia, a freelance journalist in the city of Gigante in the department of Huila, received serious threats for a video in which he revealed that the police had removed thirty fishermen from the area where the multinational company Emgresa is building a hydroelectric dam with possible environment al consequences. The fishermen insisted on remaining on the shores of the Magdalena River, in protest against construction of the El Quimbo dam. Argemiro Cárdenas Agudelo, manager of the station Metro Radio in the city of Dosquebradas (Risaralda) was murdered on March 15 at 12:30 in the afternoon by a gunman who fired several shots when Cárdenas was walking from his work toward the Guadalupe shopping center, two blocks from his office located close to the city hall, after receiving a telephone call in which it appears that he made an appointment with someone at that center, according to information from the commander of the Metropolitan Police of Pereira. Cárdenas, a veteran journalist and political leader, had been mayor of his city in 1997, representing the Liberal Party; he had been working at community radio stations for more than fifteen years and, according to versions of the newspaper Tarde de Pereira he was not carrying out important journalist work at the time. He alternated between working as a journalist and carrying out political activity. Mayor Rosa María Rivera denounced the murder and decreed three days of mourning. For his part, the Minister of the Interior, Germán Vargas Lleras, repudiated the crime and affirmed that his office had no information on threats against the life of Cárdenas Agudelo. Journalist Jesús Martínez Orozco, tied to the news program “La Verdad” on the community radio station La Nueva in Sabanalarga (Atlántico) was murdered on March 29 by two men who fired off several gunshots. The journalist was carrying out his work on the cultural section of the program where he was recognized for his knowledge of music and film. According to information from Fecolper, the producer of the program, Antonio Cervantes, reported that Martínez had not received threats and he did not discard the possibility that the event was the result of a mistake by the gunmen.