From remarks by Colombian journalist Maria Duzan at the Courage in Journalism Awards Ceremony of the International Women's Media Foundation in Washington, Nov. 11:
My sister Sylvia, along with three members of a peasant organization, was murdered in Colombia this past February by the narco-paramilitary squads while working on a free-lance assignment for a British television network. Five men opened fire on them in a cafe in the town of Cimitarra. A preliminary police investigation indicated that an army corporal was among the assailants. There are many stories about what happened, but no one has been named or arrested.
I was aware of the danger of going out to cover this story. At times I harbor the thought that I might have dissuaded her from going to Cimitarra that day. I did not. Instead, I encouraged her to keep pursuing what without question was a very important reporting assignment. Telling the truth and helping these disenfranchised peasants was her most important concern.
Colombian reporters pay dearly to dig beneath the surface of the news. It is a ticket to an early grave. It seems as if I have seen more friends, people of my generation, buried than are left here beside me. What else could we do? My slain editor at El Espectador, Guillermo Cano, killed in 1986 by the drug bosses, knew it well. . . .
I dedicate this award gratefully to many people far more courageous than I, to those who have given their lives for democracy in Colombia, to Guillermo Cano and my 47 colleagues who have been murdered in the past three years and to the nine journalists . . . being held by the drug dealers -- but especially to my sister Sylvia, who I feel stands beside me today and shares this award.