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Journalist and political leader killed in Dosquebradas, Risaralda

(FLIP/IFEX) - 15 March 2012 - The Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa (FLIP) condemns the murder of journalist and political leader Argemiro Cárdenas Agudelo, which took place at midday on 15 March 2012 in the Guadalupe neighbourhood of Dosquebradas, in Risaralda. Agudelo was the manager of the local broadcaster Metro Radio, and had been the mayor of the city in 1997. He had not reported receiving any threats.

The incident took place at 12:20 when the killer approached Agudelo and shot him four times. The journalist had gone to the Guadalupe shopping center, located two blocks from the station's offices, and one block from the Dosquebradas mayor's office. The Metropolitan Pereira police chief, Gonzalo Londoño, told the local media: "Agudelo was in the Metro Radio offices when he received a phone call and arranged a meeting with the caller. He was on his way to meet this person when he was shot and killed."

Juan Antonio Ruiz, a journalist with "La Tarde de Pereira", told FLIP: "He was not working on any controversial investigations; he was approaching retirement." Agudelo started out as a correspondent for various media outlets in Dosquebradas, and then began to alternate between his work as a journalist and his political career. He was leader of the Liberal party when he was the Dosquebradas mayor, and accompanied former congressman Germán Aguirre on his campaign. It was during that time that he was granted licences for two radio stations, “Café Estéreo” and “Dos quebradas Estéreo”, which is now called "Metro Radio Estéreo". He had worked with community radio stations for more than 14 years.

Luis Fernando Cardona, a journalist and a former Dosquebradas administration official, told FLIP: "Argemiro actively participated in the recent mayoral elections, working as part of the Uberley Marin Villada campaign. But as a journalist I don't know if he was working on any particular reports." Agudelo was responsible for the commercial and administrative parts of the business, and renting time slots for political opinion and news programmes. He was also in charge of a 60s music programme.

One source, who preferred not to be named, told FLIP: "Dosquebradas is a tense city, it is Macaco territory. Macaco's brother even ran in the last elections with an AFROVIDES (local political movement) endorsement. There are small-time drug trafficking gangs that are always fighting over neighbourhoods."

The current mayor of Dosquebradas, Rosa María Rivera, condemned the murder and declared three days of mourning. Interior Minister Germán Vargas Lleras said, "the death is condemnable. We've never had any information about Argemiro's security being compromised. He would have been given protection if there had been any signs."

FLIP offers its condolences to relatives and friends of Argemiro Cárdenas Agudelo. The organisation also condemns the murder and calls on authorities to investigate and find those responsible. It is not yet clear whether the crime was related to his work as a journalist, but legal investigations should clarify whether Agudelo was killed for his journalistic work or not.
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