HomeNewsBriefReporters Incur Wrath from Colombia's Urabeños
BRIEF

Reporters Incur Wrath from Colombia's Urabeños

COLOMBIA / 30 SEP 2014 BY DAVID GAGNE EN

Colombia's most powerful criminal organization the Urabeños have threatened journalists who have reported on their activities, a stark example of the kinds of dangers faced by journalists across the region when covering organized crime.

On September 28, eight reporters in the cities of Cali and Buenaventura received threatening letters from the Urabeños, reported El Espectador. The letters told the journalists to either stop reporting on the Urabeños, which is believed to be Colombia's most formidable criminal group, or be killed. 

According to news reports, the threats were a reaction to media coverage on the recent arrest of Fanny Grueso Bonilla, alias "La Chily," a member of the Urabeños who reportedly ran a house of torture in Buenaventura. The letters claimed the journalists reported false information on La Chily's arrest, then complained that the Urabeños have been under constant attack from the media.

In response to the threats, Colombia's Ombudsman Jorge Otalora asked authorities to take action in ensuring the protection of the reporters. The Attorney General's Office is currently investigating the origin of the letters, reported El Pais.

The threatened journalists work as correspondents for Caracol Radio, Q'Hubo Radio, El Tiempo, and Mas Pacifico in the Valle del Cauca department.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Urabeños are a decentralized organization, so it's hard to say if this action is a directive from the top or just a decision from one faction. Still, the blatant threat contained in these letters -- which were printed with a letterhead featuring a skull and crossed guns -- evokes memories of the height of Colombia's drug war during the 1980's and 90's, when reporters were routinely threatened and killed for reporting on criminal organizations. While the situation has improved drastically since then, there is still plenty of evidence that reporting on organized crime remains a dangerous job in Colombia. 

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profiles

The Urabeños' letter comes just days after another criminal group, the Rastrojos, sent a similar letter that threatened 23 human rights activists, calling them "agitators." According to Colombia's Ombudsman's office, 93 journalists have been threatened during the first eight months of 2014, more than double the number of journalists who reported threats during the same period last year. 

The worsening security situation for reporters in Colombia reflects a wider issue of organized crime restricting press freedom in Latin America. In its 2014 Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders ranked Mexico as the worst country for press freedom in mainland Latin America, while Guatemala, Paraguay, Honduras, and Colombia all received poor rankings. The Committee to Protect Journalists also ranked Colombia and Mexico as the 8th and 10th most dangerous countries to be a journalist, respectively.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 28 OCT 2020

The reintegration process for demobilized FARC fighters in Colombia’s Eastern Plains is under threat by ex-FARC Mafia groups looking to…

COLOMBIA / 1 JUL 2022

Colombian police uncovered a sex ring featuring underage migrants from Venezuela. Why does sex trafficking flourish in border areas?…

AUC / 5 MAY 2022

Accused Colombia drug lord Dairo Antonio Úsuga, alias “Otoniel,” has been extradited to the United States, bringing to an end…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…