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Threatening pamphlets target media

"Keep supporting the leftist dogs and you will be dead; get out of the city." So reads a pamphlet anonymously left at a radio station in Barrancabermeja, Colombia, in what the Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa (FLIP) terms is a new method of intimidating the press.

On 31 January, the pamphlet was left at the offices of Antena del Río 780 AM in Barrancabermeja. It is believed to be directed at the Rural Association of Valle del Río Cimitarra (ACVC), which produces a radio show broadcast twice daily that focuses on human rights violations in the area.

Across the country, in the department of Calle del Cauca, human rights activists and journalists were declared "military targets" in a pamphlet distributed around Cartago on 4 February. Among those on the list were journalists Luis Fernando Gil, of the "Hora 13" TV programme, Raúl Parra, director of the "La Hoja de Parra" publication, and Héctor Fabio García of the Cartago Estéreo radio station.

The notice, which is believed to have originated from the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC), put a price on the head of each person named and called for "collaborators" of the AUC to "do their part," presumably by acting on the threats.

According to Gil, the notice was just one of a series of pamphlets targeting the same journalists that have been circulating since October 2009. All of the threats have gone unpunished. "These notices always come after we have met with local officials, or when we cover stories about labour union actions," he said.

Gil, who is under a protection plan created by the Ministry of the Interior, says he fears for his family following the threats. Other individuals named are thinking about leaving the city, he added.

Recently, FLIP has reported threatening flyers being distributed in various parts of the country, specifically Atlántico, Valle del Cauca, Cauca, Nariño, Putumayo, and now Santander. Because of the difficultly of tracing the threats and the lack of will of the authorities to investigate them, most threats have gone unpunished, says FLIP.

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