Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Note to the State Dept: This man is not a terrorist

A Colombian journalist, once praised by U.S. State Department officials, is now denied a visa to visit the U.S. Those who've followed events in Colombia will immediately jump to the correct conclusion: the journalist criticized the government.

The peerless Kevin Cullen, columnist for the Boston Globe, tells the story of Hollman Morris, who received a Nieman fellowship to study for a year at Harvard.

The Colombian government has deemed Morris too cozy with terrorists, and the US
government is taking the word of its closest ally in Latin America, ignoring Morris’s colleagues and human rights organizations who consider him a courageous, call-’em-as-he-sees-’em journalist.

Morris produces a TV news show called “Contravia,’’ which translates to “going against the traffic.’’ And when it comes to covering President Álvaro Uribe, Morris has consistently gone the wrong way down what that government considers a one-way street.

Cullen points out that reporting in Colombia is dangerous.

There have been 43 journalists killed there in the last 18 years. There is enormous pressure on journalists to be seen as taking the right side, and in the government’s view the right side is always its side.

It's also dangerous to be a trade unionist in Colombia -- more dangerous than in any other country on the planet. At least 48 unionists were murdered with impunity in Colombia last year, according to US LEAP.