Colombia - Demonstration today in support of journalist kidnapped five days ago at Mock Roadblock



    MONTREAL, Feb. 22 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders voices its
support for a demonstration today by local media journalists in the
northeastern department of La Guajira to demand the release of Mario Alfonso
Puello, who works for Radio Delfin, TV Norte and the regional daily
La Noticia. Puello was kidnapped along with two other people on a road near
the Venezuelan border on 17 February.
    "So far there is no information confirming that Puello's abduction is
linked to his work as a journalist but the Atlantic coast region is a
high-risk one for the press and we full support the demonstration by La
Guajira's journalists," the press freedom organisation said. "We also express
our complete solidarity with Puello's family and friends and we urge the
authorities to do everything possible to ensure he is quickly and safely
recovered."
    Puello was kidnapped at around 3:40 p.m. on 17 February at Dibuya, a
locality near the Venezuelan border on the road linking the cities of Santa
Marta and Riohacha. He was returning home with university academic Aldo Brito
Carillo, Brito's brother-in-law, Maicol Mendoza, and their driver, Jhon
Romero, after a day of teaching adults to read and write.
    Everyone in the car, except Brito, was kidnapped when they were forced to
stop at a roadblock that appeared to be manned by solders as they had uniforms
and used fluorescent traffic cones. Brito, who managed to escape, made no
mention any previous threat. The authorities said they do not know if an armed
group was responsible for the kidnapping.
    As well as being a journalist, Puello works for the literacy programme
for adults and local indigenous communities created by the Open and Distance
University (UNAD), of which Brito is the rector. Puello has 10 children. La
Guajira's journalists, who will be staging a street demonstration today, say
they do not think Puello was kidnapped for ransom because he is not very well
off.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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