Montenegro, 42, dedicated himself to covering the region’s peace-related issues among a number of other topics.
The death of a Colombian radio journalist shook the community of Samaniego, Nariño this week after he was shot dead Tuesday night in a motorcycle drive-by, authorities said.
Radio Journalist Libardo Montenegro’s death has been ruled a homicide, the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) confirmed following a briefing with Nariño municipal authorities.
Montenegro, 42, dedicated himself to covering the region’s peace-related issues, among a number of other topics. A television interview on the morning of his death revealed he was organizing a meeting for “the defense of life and human rights in Samaniego.”
He was well liked in his profession and had worked tirelessly as a journalist for some 20 years. His final tenure was with Samaniego Estereo, a member of the Community Radio Stations for Peace and Coexistence project supported by the European Union. The movement works towards the “construction of a Culture of Peace in the Territories."
President Ivan Duque wrote on Twitter, “We strongly reject the murder of Journalist Libardo Montenegro. … I have asked authorities to advance investigations and find those responsible for this crime.”
According to reports, Montenegro was near his girlfriend’s home in Samaniego when a pair of motorcyclists overtook him and shot him several times, Colonel William Peña said. Police investigators have not made any conclusions about whether the radio host was targeted for a deadly assault based on his profession or his personal projects.
However, a pattern has emerged this year, with some 15 human rights activists killed in the Department of Nariño.
FLIP condemned the deadly act, writing, “The appraisal made by the police is not only on shaky ground but contradicts the work that Montenegro carried out in the town. Although the relationship of his murder to his profession is in the process of being documented, there is not a single piece of evidence for the police to disregard his role as a journalist.
“When the authorities disregard the role of a journalist, the official figures that register and track incidences of violence against the press can be affected. The impact of that reaction – reckless – is starker in municipalities such as Samaniego, where the regional press is scarce and vulnerable,” the organization said.
Since 2017, six journalists were murdered in Colombia.