According to reports by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Colombia ranks a dismal 134th on the scale of countries that rates respect for press freedom in the world, rising several places every year.
The reputable international NGO denounces a harmful environment for journalism in Colombia and calls on the authorities to respect the work of the press.
In 2019, two journalists from The New York Times had to flee Colombia in the face of death threats from paramilitaries and supporters of former president Álvaro Uribe, following the publication of a report implicating the Colombian army in several unjustifiable acts of bloodshed. The then defence minister, Guillermo Botero, implicated in several scandals, resigned a few months later.
In May 2020, the Association of International Press in Colombia (APIC) and RSF International expressed their strong disapproval of the Colombian army’s monitoring, wiretapping, interception and surveillance of national and foreign journalists.
During the recent popular mobilisations and the National Strike called on 28 April 2021, which spread throughout all regions, blocking the main transport and supply routes, police forces and paramilitary groups caused more than 90 deaths by gunfire and hundreds of missing persons, about whom no conclusive investigations have been carried out by the Attorney General’s Office or other judicial bodies, despite complaints by the IACHR (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights) about the seriousness and impunity of the events.
Journalists such as the director of local television Channel 2 in Cali, the epicentre of the social and youth revolt in the country, received death threats during a live broadcast, from police members of the Esmad (Mobile Anti-Riot Squad), and the Opposition in Parliament had to ask the government for their personal protection.
The Foundation for Press Freedom and RSF recorded about 68 cases of attacks on journalists in the most intense months of popular mobilisation in the Cauca region alone.
It is in this context, with total complicity between those economic and political sectors that are enemies of freedom of the press and freedom of expression, along with the repressive apparatus of the state and the armed actors of paramilitary groups, that the series “Matarife” is produced and broadcast. As a result, the journalist and criminologist Daniel Mendoza has had to accept the status of “asylum seeker” offered to him by France to avoid a new chapter in the “Chronicle of a death foretold” that is shaking free and investigative journalism in Colombia.