CARTAGENA, Colombia – Dozens of Colombian journalists gathered at a monument to martyrs Monday in the Caribbean city of Cartagena to protest the murders of three employees of Ecuador’s El Comercio newspaper by dissident FARC guerrillas.
“We the journalists of Cartagena firmly reject the murders of our Ecuadorian colleagues and express our support for their families,” Ronald Rodriguez, spokesman for the Bolivar Journalists Association, told EFE.
Last Friday, Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno confirmed that the three journalists had been killed.
El Comercio reporter Javier Ortega, 36, photographer Paul Rivas, 45, and driver Efrain Segarra, 60, were abducted on the Ecuador-Colombia border on March 26.
“We want to remind everyone that our profession is a neutral one that does not take sides, so we demand that we be excluded from the armed conflict, and we reiterate to the governments of Colombia and Ecuador that they are responsible for our safety in practicing our profession,” Rodriguez said.
Members of the media demand that the “governments of Colombia and Ecuador provide their respective explanations as to what actually happened to our colleagues,” Rodriguez said.
Officials in Ecuador and Colombia said the killings were ordered by Walter Patricio “Guacho” Arizala Vernaza, who commands a unit of at least 50 men who decided not to accept the peace agreement that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group signed with the Colombian government.
The FARC demobilized and transformed itself into a political party that uses the same acronym.