79th IAPA General Assembly, November 9 - 12, 2023, Mexico City, Mexico


The murder of a journalist, death threats, and stigmatization against the press, promoted mainly by President Gustavo Petro and national officials, are serious events that occurred during this period.

On May 9, journalist Luis Gabriel Pereira, director of the digital media Notiorense of Ciénaga de Oro, Córdoba, who frequently wrote about captures, homicides, and the increase of violence in the region, was murdered.

The director of the digital media Caribe Noticias 24/7, based in Córdoba, was forced to leave the country with his family after receiving threats and an attack due to his journalistic investigations.

A September 29 report by the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) registered 69 aggressions against more than 80 journalists this year. It stated that journalists who cover "issues related to criminal actions" are often targeted by armed groups.

In Tuluá, Valle del Cauca, organized crime has been pressuring several local journalists since June to publish information coming from an illegal group. They also declared five journalists a military target for not acceding to their requests. They gave threatening instructions not to report on one of the candidates for mayor of Tuluá.

The editor of the newspaper La Opinión de Cúcuta, Estefanía Colmenares, received threats against her life after the newspaper criticized the irregular conduct of the former mayor of that city, Ramiro Suárez, who remains in custody.

President Petro and his followers continue to stigmatize the media and journalists, creating a climate of intolerance, antagonism, and criminalization against the press. Petro accuses the media of lying, of discrediting his administration, of participating in an alleged "soft coup" against him, and of "unleashing a genocide" or provoking a suicide - in allusion to the case of Colonel Óscar Dávila of his security team, who took his own life amid a scandal involving the presidential entourage - due to pressure from the press.

In the marches called by the national government on June 7, President Petro held a media outlet responsible for handling the Attorney General's Office. He indicated that "they have just raided other offices of the Presidency, (the magazine) Semana orders and the CTI obeys." Five journalists were attacked that day. The Association of News Media (AMI) demanded better democratic behavior from the authorities.

On September 29, Semana was attacked by the Indigenous Minga, a group that had attended and participated two days earlier in the marches called by the government. AMI described as unacceptable and significantly worrying the violent seizure of the media's facilities.

In response to this episode, Petro rejected acts of violence against the media. However, the Minister of Labor urged the media "not to be inflammatory." In the same line, Petro questioned that if the press can slander the president, he should have the right to reply to false information.

The National Congress also stigmatizes and calls for control of the media. On June 16, pro-government senator Isabel Cristina Zuleta warned that the Attorney General's Office should intervene in the press during a journalistic investigation. On June 20, she reiterated this request "to guarantee the veracity and impartiality" of journalistic investigations, highlighting the importance of regulating freedom of expression, taking as a reference the now repealed media law of Argentina, arguing that the "enormous power" of the press should be limited.

Several bills in Congress seek to establish rules on rectification, reply, and indemnification, contrary to Inter-American standards on freedom of the press.

In other cases of stigmatization and discrediting, in May, councilman Jhon Carlos Bedoya of Caucasia, Antioquia, accused the director of NP Noticias Online of being a liar and extortionist, thus aggravating his security situation since 2020, when the journalist has been the victim of 19 threats.

In August, the mayor of Cartagena, William Dau, threatened journalists with legal action. He called them "stomach journalists" and "gossipers" and accused them of plotting a strategy to attack him.

Former President Álvaro Uribe and his proxy repeatedly accused a journalist who spoke about a hearing in the special jurisdiction for peace, calling him a "contractor columnist" and saying that "he could be one of those morally and politically responsible for terrorism because of his positions." Two journalists were assaulted during opposition marches on June 21.