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Journalists threatened with death in pamphlet signed by paramilitary group

(FLIP/IFEX) - On 12 December 2007, the offices of the radio station Maravilla, in the city of Valledupar in Cesar department, received a pamphlet signed by the "Nuevas AUC-Cesar" ("AUC" is the acronym for the country's largest paramilitary umbrella organisation). The pamphlet contained a list of 24 residents of the city designated as "military targets", among them Enrique Camargo Plata, director of news programming for the radio station Radio Guatapurí, and Raúl Garrido Cantillo, a photographer with the departmental government.

The governor of Cesar department, Rodrigo Canosa Guerrero, who was also on the hit list, stated that he had alerted the national government to the fact that paramilitary groups had apparently reappeared in the region. He also announced that the authorities were verifying the authenticity of the pamphlet.

Speaking to FLIP, Gustavo Cuello, a journalist with Maravilla radio station, said that on the morning of 12 December someone rang the doorbell of the station and slid two envelopes under the station's main door. One was addressed to journalist Julio de la Rosa, the host of the station's morning programme, and the other to Eder Guerra, who works for the station's news programme. The envelopes contained the pamphlet and hit list.

Melisa Quintero, president of a Valledupar journalists' organisation (Círculo de Periodistas de Valledupar), said the pamphlet has inspired fear among journalists.

FLIP tried to contact José Edgar Cepeda Ayala, the police commander for Valledupar, without success. Nonetheless, various journalists stated that the commander had ordered security measures be taken to protect all those whose names appeared in the hit list.

The pamphlet also calls for "the re-arming of our group due to the failure of the national and municipal governments," and affirms the group's determination to continue the "war" against "subversives" and "white collar delinquents".

FLIP urges the authorities to investigate these new threats against journalists in Cesar department, to determine the authenticity and origin of the pamphlet, and to provide adequate protection to those under threat.

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