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Journalist in Villavicencio, Meta, receives death threat

(FLIP/IFEX) - At 5:00 a.m. on 18 December 2011, a guard at the "Periódico del Meta" newspaper offices received a note addressed to journalist Héctor Gómez Arguello, saying, "Your time has come, you just couldn't keep quiet. We'll find you wherever you are." The incident took place in Villavicencio, Meta department. Gómez has been reporting on the mismanagement of a local aqueduct in Villavicencio's Ciudad Porfía neighbourhood.

Gómez Arguello was previously threatened in March. At that time, the threats stopped after the journalist filed complaints with the Public Prosecutor's Office and was provided with police protection via check-ins when officers were on their rounds.

The commander of the Villavicencio Metropolitan Police, José Javier Viva Báez, said he had not been informed of the recent threat but expressed concern and noted that an investigation would need to be carried out to determine the risk level the journalist is facing and establish appropriate protective measures. Although there is currently a protection plan in place for Gómez Arguello, it has not been effectively implemented. The journalist told FLIP that "the police rounds that they did were done poorly, and every 15 days a police officer simply came by to get me or my wife to sign a form."

FLIP has documented three cases of threats against journalists in Meta in 2011, mainly during the election period, and one case of an assault on a journalist in Villavicencio. In addition, on a recent trip to Villavicencio, FLIP noted that many journalists are censoring themselves.

FLIP calls on the National Police to provide protection to media personnel in Meta and urges the judicial authorities to investigate and identify those responsible for the threats against journalists.

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