Miami (November 20, 2013)—An attack on journalist Diego Gómez Valverde in Cali, Colombia, was condemned today by the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), which called on the authorities to carry out a prompt investigation into the incident.
Gómez Valverde, director of the television channel of del Valle university in Cali, capital of the Valle del Cauca province, was attacked and wounded by a man riding a motorcycle who then fled the crime scene. Gómez Valverde, 49, is recovering in a local clinic from five gunshot wounds he received as he was driving his car yesterday evening.
According to the police, the motives for the attempted murder of the journalist are unknown, but according to a colleague of his, Gomez Valverde said he had been previously threatened. His family believed the attack could be linked to a case of extortion.
The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, said, “Unfortunately in Colombia – a country that managed to halt the violence that years ago left a long list of murdered colleagues – we are starting to see, once again, a worrisome increase in denunciations of attacks and threats against journalists.”
Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, added, “The impunity surrounding murders, threats and other acts of violence is the foundation of self-censorship and lack of defense of members of the press. Such lack of action has in the long run, negative collateral effects on how press freedom is exercised in our countries.”
He went on to say that “many of the murder cases in Colombia continue to go unpunished, others have become subject to the statute of limitations without justice being done.” This year, the cases of the murders of Gerardo Didier Gómez, Carlos Lajud Catalán, Nelson de la Rosa Toscano and Manuel José Martínez Espinosa, all of them killed in 1993, became subject to such statutes. The case of Danilo Alfonso Baquero is about to expire on December 26, the date marks the 20th anniversary of his assassination.
The case of Eustorgio Colmenares, murdered on March 12, 1993, managed to avoid the term of the statute of limitations when it was declared just one day before as “a crime of lese majesty” by the Colombian Attorney General’s Office.
In an official press release the del Valle university stated its regret, condemned the attack and urged the authorities “to act speedily in the investigation” so as to identify those responsible, and it offered sympathy to the victim’s family members, friends and colleagues and solidarity with “the journalists of the region and the country who recently have suffered the consequences of those who resort to violence.”
So far this year, in Colombia, the murders of radio reporter Édinson Alberto Molina in the town of Puerto Berrío, Antioquia province, on September 11 and José Darío Arenas, vendor of the newspaper Extra in the Quindío neighborhood of Caicedonia, Valle del Cauca, on September 28 have been registered.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org.