27 February 1998



MIAMI, Florida (Feb. 27) - A delegation of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), during a recent meeting with the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Human Rights Commission in Washington, expressed its repudiation of the murder of another journalist in Colombia, the 10th newsmen in the Western Hemisphere to be slain since October. Danilo Arbilla, chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, gave details of the latest murder in a discussion with the Commission on how it will implement its decision to appoint a rapporteur to look into unpunished crimes against journalists. He reported that Oscar García Calderón, a report for the Bogotá, Colombia, daily El Espectador, was murdered in the Colombian capital on February 22. The body of García Calderón, 50, who covered bullfights for the newspaper for the past 20 years, was found in an empty lot near the Bogotá offices of the Colombian attorney general. He had been shot three times in the head and neck. His wallet was missing but he was still wearing his watch and gold ring, which led police to speculate that he had not simply been the victim of a mugging. García Calderón had recently been investigating reports of corruption in the bullfight business. Colleagues at El Espectador said that García Calderón had left the paper at 7:30 p.m. after covering a bullfight earlier in the day and that eye-witnesses reported hearing gunshots around 8:00 p.m. at the place where his body was later found. According to figures compiled by the IAPA, a total of 189 journalists have been murdered in the Americas since 1988, 73 of them in Colombia – four in the last year alone. Arbilla, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, news magazine Búsqueda, declared to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission chairman, Carlos Ayala, and members that "we cannot stand idly by in the face of this kind of aggression and other subtle violations of press freedom in the Americas." He hailed the Commission’s appointment of a special rapporteur, which he said was justified precisely by such incidents as this, which endanger the physical well-being of journalists and the free exercise of free speech.