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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Colombian authorities capture FARC dissident they say was custodian of abducted Ecuadorian journalists



Colombian authorities announced the capture of the alleged fourth in command for the Oliver Sinisterra Front who they said was responsible for the custody of the Ecuadorian journalists who were abducted in March, and later killed.

Photo of the abducted journalists from the Twitter account “Nos Faltan 3”

The Attorney General’s Office of Colombia posted on Twitter on July 7 that it had just captured Jesús Vargas Cuajiboy, alias Reinel, in Santander De Quilichao in the department of Cauca.

“The Colombian State pledged its word that the abduction of Javier, Paúl and Efraín, the Ecuadorian journalists, would not remain unpunished,” the attorney general’s office said, adding it would continue identifying those responsible.

Photojournalist Paúl Rivas, journalist Javier Ortega and driver Efraín Segarra of Ecuadorian newspaper El Comercio were abducted on March 26 near the Colombian border, an area that saw confrontations between the military and FARC dissident groups. Attempts to secure their release failed, and on April 11, a statement allegedly signed by the Oliver Sinisterra Front, which is a dissident group of the FARC, announced the trio’s deaths. Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno confirmed the news two days later.

Their bodies were finally located by Colombian military forces in late June and their identities were confirmed on June 25. Family members of the slain journalists criticized the Colombian government’s communication during the process, saying they learned of the discovery of the bodies via social media and media reports.

On July 7, the Attorney General’s Office also reported it obtained an arrest warrant against alias Guacho “as the main determinator of the abduction of the Ecuadorian journalists.”

“Guacho,” the leader of Oliver Sinisterra Front who is identified as Walter Arizala, is also singled out as being responsible for the abduction of a young couple, as well as for carrying out attacks on the electric infrastructure in Tumaco and harassment against public forces and citizens, according to El Colombiano.



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