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Death threat drives Colombian cartoonist Matador offline

Uribe's supporters have showered the cartoonist Matador with insults in speeches and on social media, tried to take court action to make the cartoonist apologize for his work and, in a more recent and worrying turn, called for the journalist to be assassinated.

Supporters of former Colombian president and current senator Álvaro Uribe hold placards during the closing rally of the Centro Democratico party's campaign for legislative elections, in Bogotá, 4 March 2018
Supporters of former Colombian president and current senator Álvaro Uribe hold placards during the closing rally of the Centro Democratico party's campaign for legislative elections, in Bogotá, 4 March 2018

RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images

The following is an excerpt of a 1 May 2018 CPJ Blog post by John Otis/CPJ Andes Correspondent.

During his 15-year career satirizing public figures, Colombia's best-known editorial cartoonist has made numerous enemies. In his drawings for the Bogotá daily El Tiempo, Julio César González, better known by his pen name, Matador, targets politicians of all stripes.

But he often zeroes in on Álvaro Uribe, a popular senator and former president. He depicts the right-wing Uribe as a two-faced strongman, a saboteur of Colombia's peace process that ended a long-running guerrilla war in 2016, and a political puppeteer scheming to place one of his ideological allies in the presidency

In response, Uribe's supporters have showered Matador with insults in speeches and on social media, tried to take court action to make the cartoonist apologize for his work - a judge threw out the case earlier this year - and, in a more recent and worrying turn, called for the journalist to be assassinated.

The threat came last month, when Ariel Ortega Martínez, a Colombian travel agent and Uribe backer, lamented on Twitter the 2004 death of a notorious paramilitary death squad leader and suggested that if the killer were still around he could be used to silence Matador, according to reports.

Read the full blog post on CPJ's site.

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