3 Ecuadorean Journalists Killed

Apr 15, 2018
Originally published on April 17, 2018 7:29 am
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Now to South America, where a peace treaty in Colombia may have had some tragic side effects in neighboring Ecuador. Two Ecuadorian journalists and their driver who were kidnapped last month by former Colombian guerrillas have been killed. Reporter John Otis has more.

JOHN OTIS, HOST:

Journalist Javier Ortega, photographer Paul Rivas and driver Efrain Segarra worked for El Comercio, one of Ecuador's leading newspapers. They were investigating growing violence along the Ecuador-Colombia border by dissident members of the FARC guerrilla group. Most of the FARC's 7,000 fighters disarmed last year, ending Colombia's 52-year guerrilla war, but some 1,500 rebels refused to lay down their weapons. Many have formed cocaine trafficking gangs that operate along the frontier. One of these groups abducted the journalists on March 26.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking Spanish).

OTIS: In this proof-of-life video released last week, the journalists have chains and padlocks around their necks. They explain that their captors want to exchange them for three drug traffickers imprisoned in Ecuador.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

POLIVIO VINUEZA: (Speaking Spanish).

OTIS: Polivio Vinueza, Ecuador's anti-kidnapping czar, said his agents had been in contact with the kidnappers and were exploring a prisoner exchange. But on Wednesday, the kidnappers abruptly announced that the hostages had been executed.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT LENIN MORENO: (Speaking Spanish).

OTIS: On Friday, Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno confirmed the news but offered no details on how or why the hostages were killed. For NPR News, I'm John Otis in Bogota, Colombia.

(SOUNDBITE OF ESBJORN SVENSSON TRIO'S "BEHIND THE YASHMAK") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.