A Fight to Survive

Along with most sectors of society in Colombia, journalists have been victims of violence spawned by that nation’s drug cartels. One newspaper in particular, El Espectador, has shown special determination in fighting the drug lords, and has paid a high price for its courage.

In recent years the newspaper’s editor and its attorney have been killed by assassins using the methods favored by the hit men who are employed by the cartels. Earlier this week a reporter for the newspaper was killed. Other reporters and columnists who work there receive death threats regularly, and must either flee the country or commute to work in armored cars accompanied by bodyguards.

On Sept. 2 the drug lords tried to put the 102-year-old publication out of business once and for all. Their henchmen parked a pickup truck packed with 220 pounds of dynamite in a gasoline station across the street from the El Espectador offices and detonated the explosives. A safety mechanism kept the service station’s underground tanks from going up in flames. But the bomb did considerable damage to the newspaper, putting its telephone and computer system out of commission and ruining tons of newsprint.

Characteristically, El Espectador has tried to rebound from this attack, publishing smaller editions that are quickly snatched up by eager Bogota readers. But the financial losses that resulted from the explosion have been severe.

So newspapers throughout the Western Hemisphere, including The Times, working through the Inter American Press Assn., joined together this week to help El Espectador by buying ads in the newspaper. El Espectador needs all the help it can get in its fight against the miserable criminals who have made life difficult for the many decent citizens of Colombia.