Colombian journalist and activist Herbin Hoyos, creator of the radio program The voices of kidnapping, has died this Tuesday from respiratory complications derived from the coronavirus, as confirmed by his family. Hoyos, 53, had been hospitalized since January at the Shaio Clinic in Bogotá. He was remembered for directing the Caracol Radio space for nearly two decades to which the relatives of kidnapped people, many times held captive by guerrillas in the depths of the jungle, went to send messages of encouragement to their loved ones.
Hoyos himself suffered the drama of the kidnapping in 1994, when the defunct FARC guerrilla kept him in captivity for 17 days, and in 2009 he had to take refuge in Spain in the face of threats from the insurgents. Journalist from the Complutense University of Madrid, he was recognized with the Ondas Award in that year and The voices of kidnapping it was broadcast on Cadena SER. The kidnapping marked his career as a reporter and driver. In recent years he had become a sort of activist against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, now disarmed and turned into a political party, as well as an informal representative of a radicalized sector of victims of the armed conflict of more than half a century.
His campaigns brought him closer to Uribismo, the conservative movement created around former president Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010), President Iván Duque’s political mentor and a staunch opponent of talks with the FARC. The communicator was even a kind of spokesperson for the failed efforts to repeal the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), which emerged from the agreements signed by the Government of Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018).
“The death of our friend, the journalist Herbin Hoyos, hurts. A tireless fighter for freedom and a brave whistleblower of terrorism atrocities, ”President Duque said on his Twitter account. “His legacy against kidnapping will live forever. Great journalist; extraordinary human being. We accompany his family, ”said the president as part of a series of messages from colleagues and public figures to mourn his death.
“A champion of freedom has passed away,” seconded former President Uribe, “an incomparable protector of the citizens martyred by the kidnapping narco-terrorism.” The Democratic Center, the government party founded by the ex-president, said in a statement that Hoyos was “a hero speaking out for the victims of the kidnapping and their families. Always forward in denouncing the abuses of the ELN, the FARC and common crime. Always forward in the search for peace without impunity ”.
The voices of kidnapping It acquired great notoriety at the beginning of the century, when the issue was at the top of the public agenda both due to the numerous extortive kidnappings by different armed actors and the prolonged kidnapping of politicians perpetrated by the FARC – among them that of Ingrid Betancourt – . This strategy intensified in the decline of the Andrés Pastrana government (1998-2002), after the failed negotiations in El Caguán. The kidnapped families pressured Álvaro Uribe’s Executive (2002-2010) to achieve a humanitarian agreement that never materialized.
It has been one of the most cruel crimes and repudiated by Colombian society in the midst of the long armed conflict. Last month, when indicting the former FARC leadership for a series of war crimes and crimes against humanity related to this practice, the JEP pointed out that it was “systematic and massive” for at least 30 years, between 1982 and 2012 , with a balance of more than 21,000 victims. The transitional court of justice described the kidnapping in its historic decision as “a policy that turned human beings into things whose value did not lie in human dignity, but in exchange value for the money they had and that they could report to the armed organization ”.