Why are journalists threatened and killed? A portrait of neo-paramilitary anti-press violence in Colombia’s Bajo Cauca

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Abstract

Anti-press violence in Colombia’s Bajo Cauca is an inherent part of the structures, which underpin the region’s alternative social (dis)order. Through ethnographic interviews with four members of Colombia’s neo-paramilitary group, Los Urabeños, who have perpetrated attacks against journalists, this study argues that anti-press violence can co-exist alongside a sense of respect for journalism. It identifies a direct link between a journalist’s style of reporting and the level of risk to which they might be exposed, as well as between neo-paramilitary decisions to kill or intimidate and the level of law enforcement in operation. It is argued that anti-press violence is connected to the perpetrators’ democratic and economic survival. In these circumstances, anti-press violence is presented as a tool of criminal governance to maintain the alternative social (dis)order and protect the neo-paramilitaries’ brutal act of ‘insurgent citizenship’. Such analysis moves beyond the consideration of the wider democratic implications of anti-press violence to provide a more nuanced understanding of the provocative, deliberative and structural determinants, which underpin it on the violent margins of Colombia.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournalism
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 9 2020

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