Open letter to the leadership and members of Colombia’s Foundation for Freedom of the Press (Flip)
FLIP runs the risk of becoming nothing more than a group in the service of the ruling party, thus standing against the ideals of professional journalism
April 11, 2016
The undersigned journalists and columnists from around the world, all honorable journalists in good standing, strongly reject the libelous comments and offensive photo-montages launched last week by Flip’s ex-President, Ignacio Gomez, against Ricardo Puentes Melo, a Colombian journalist currently exiled in the U.S.
With complete disregard for the truth and with malicious intent, Ignacio Gomez launched an attack through his Twitter account, denigrating Puentes Melo’s journalistic integrity by falsely portraying him as a paid “propagandist” for the Center Democratic party – hoping perhaps to justify his diatribe against the journalist. More egregiously, he slandered Puentes Melo, accusing him of being a “criminal,” of being the “creator of a judicial war,” and describing him as an “armed” combatant. Through photo-montages launched from his Twitter account, Gomez depicted Puentes Melo as a Jihadist terrorist. The photo-montages referred to Puentes Melo’s news portal, Periodismo Sin Fronteras (Journalism Without Borders), as “Terrorism Without Borders.”
It is unacceptable that Gomez, a member of an organization that purports to defend freedom of the press, should attack a fellow journalist in this fashion, simply because that journalist has exercised his right to dissent and does not share Gomez’ ideology. Gomez’s portrayals of Puentes Melo – all false and baseless – not only go against his good name, but also put him at risk, inciting hate among those who have already threatened and acted against Puentes Melo and his family – to the point that they currently live in exile.
We would like to remind Flip that it was Puentes Melo’s investigative reporting and his publications in Periodismo Sin Fronteras that uncovered the false witnesses in the legal process against Colonel Plazas Vega – investigations that were eventually corroborated in the Supreme Court decision that exonerated the Colonel. We would also emphasize that, through Periodismo Sin Fronteras, many of the undersigned have been able to exercise our freedom of expression and our right to dissent, question and criticize, always with integrity and truth and without censorship. To describe the portal in such a fashion is to slander us all with the label of terrorists.
For this reason, we ask that Flip issue a statement on the actions of Ignacio Gomez, establishing its position on his comments. It is also important for Flip to clarify its statutes and in what way they defend freedom of the press, regardless of ideology. If Flip does not do so, it runs the risk of becoming nothing more than a group in the service of the ruling party, thus standing against the ideals of professional journalism.
Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza
Rafael Nieto Loaiza
Darío Acevedo Carmona
Frank de Varona
José Alvear Sanín
Jaime Jaramillo Panesso
Rafael Uribe Uribe
Cristina de Toro R.
Beatriz de Majo
Andrés Felipe Arcos
Oscar Alberto Díaz García
José Alejandro Ramírez