|Known for||reporting on organized crime|
Nieman Fellow (2000)|
International Press Freedom Award (2002)
Ignacio Gómez (born c. 1962; also known as "Nacho") is a Colombian journalist known for his high-risk reporting on organized crime, corruption, and paramilitary groups. In 2000 he received the "Special Award for Human Rights Journalism Under Threat", Amnesty Media Award. In 2002, he was awarded the International Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Gómez began working at El Espectador, a daily newspaper in Bogota, at the age of 24. The paper's editor-in-chief at the time was Guillermo Cano, who was a hero of Gómez. On 17 December 1986, only a few weeks after Gómez's hiring, Cano was assassinated outside the El Espectador's office by a man with a submachine gun, apparently in retaliation for his reporting on Pablo Escobar and other drug lords. In the 1980s and 1990s, Colombia had the highest rate of murders of reporters in the world, and over the next fourteen years, ten more El Espectador reporters would be murdered. Gómez later described the mood at El Espectador as "like having your gravestone tied around your neck".
In the late 1980s, Gómez continued Cano's mission of aggressively investigating Pablo Escobar's connections with the Colombian government, at one point publishing a list of properties in Medelin that the drug lord secretly owned. He also expanded his reporting into coverage of the conflict with far-right paramilitary groups, such as Carlos Castaño's Peasant Self-Defense Forces of Córdoba and Urabá (ACCU). In September 1988, he was forced to flee the country after a firebombing of El Espectador's offices believed to be a retaliation for his reporting, but he returned nine months later. In 1989 alone, he reported on 36 separate massacres.
In 1996, Gómez co-founded La Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa (English: "The Foundation for Press Freedom"; abbreviated "FLIP"), a non-profit organization to protect threatened journalists. He also served as the group's executive director until 2001.
Gómez is best known for his coverage of the Mapiripán massacre, a "five-day killing spree" in July 1997 in which Colombian Army officers colluded with the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) to kill at least 49 people in the village of Mapiripán suspected of being guerrilla sympathizers. The killers used machetes and chainsaws, dismembering the corpses and throwing the pieces into the river. When Gómez broke the story of the Army's involvement in February 2000, he received 56 threats in the next two months. On 24 May, a group of men attempted to abduct Gómez as he was entering a taxi in Bogota, but he escaped. The next day, Gómez's colleague Jineth Bedoya was kidnapped, tortured, and raped; her kidnappers told her that they "planned to cut Gómez into tiny pieces". Amnesty International also issued a statement of concern for his safety, describing his case as "a clear example of the campaign of terror Colombian journalists are increasingly subjected to".
On 1 June 2000, Gómez left the country, moving to Massachusetts, US, where he served for a year as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He returned to Colombia in late 2001, becoming the Director of Investigations for the television news show Noticias Uno. After a report on links between presidential candidate Álvaro Uribe Vélez (who became President of Colombia later in the year) and the Medellín Cartel, Gómez was once again the target of death threats, along with news director Daniel Coronell and Coronell's three-year-old daughter, prompting Reporters Without Borders to issue of a statement of protest on their behalf.
On 24 May 2011, burglars tried to force their way into Gómez's home for the seventh time in ten years; noting the "sophisticated equipment" of the burglars, he attributed the attempted break-in to agents of Colombia's Administrative Department of Security.
Awards and recognition
In addition to his 2001 Nieman Fellowship, Gómez was awarded the 2002 International Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists, "an annual recognition of courageous journalism". In the award citation, the CPJ praised Gómez's "exceptional commitment to truth and freedom". In 2010, Gómez's organization FLIP won the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism, awarded by the Missouri School of Journalism.
- "Ignacio Gómez". PBS NewsHour. 2002. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
- "Guillermo Cano, Colombia: World Press Freedom Hero". International Press Institute. 2000. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
- Maria Carrion (26 May 2000). "Interview with Ignacio Gomez, Executive Director of the Foundation for Freedom of the Press in Colombia". Democracy Now!. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
- Ignacio Gómez (Spring 2001). "Colombia's War Takes Place on a Global Stage". Nieman Reports. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
- "2002 Awardee: Ignacio Gomez". Committee to Protect Journalists. 2002. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
- "Former Colombian general jailed for role in Mapiripán massacre". Associated Press. 26 November 2009. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
- "The Press as a 'Military Target': Armed Groups Against Press Freedom". Reporters Without Borders. 22 November 2001. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
- "Journalists caught in cross-fire". Amnesty International. 23 June 2000. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
- "Ignacio Gómez bio". Nieman Reports. Spring 2001. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
- "Death Threats Made Against Two Colombian TV Journalists And A Car Bomb Discovered Near The Offices Of A Leading Bogota Newspaper". Reporters Without Borders. 30 April 2002. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
- "Séptimo asalto a la casa del periodista Ignacio Gómez" (in Spanish). Reporters Without Borders. 25 May 2011. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
- "Amnesty magazine July/August 2000 Media Award 2000 winners". Amnesty International UK (AIUK). Archived from the original on December 14, 2000.
- "MEDIA AWARDS 2000: WINNERS ANNOUNCED Posted: 23 June 2000" (Press release). Amnesty International UK (AIUK). Jun 23, 2000. Archived from the original on Jan 20, 2013. Retrieved January 20, 2013.
- "CPJ International Press Freedom Awards 2011". Committee to Protect Journalists. 2011. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
- Summer Harlow (29 March 2010). "Colombian press freedom organization, Mexican weekly honored for distinguished service in journalism". Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. Retrieved 31 January 2012.