May 3rd, 2012
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Marquez’s ‘News of a Kidnapping’


Marcela Alvarez

(Marcela Alvarez writes about ‘News of a Kidnapping’, a fictional work by celebrated author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, with a happy mix of critical perspectives while elaborating on press freedom. )

The theme of this work is the freedom of press and information. From the definition of these two concepts, reading and analysis of the book: News of a Kidnapping by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to relate the context in which it develops the story told in the book, with topics including two concepts mentioned above.

This work tries to analyze what role the media to build a democracy in the era of war against extradition Extraditables and government against narco-terrorism. And in the same way, assess how they affected the freedom of press and information in it.


Information is an element of knowledge, is a legal and moral right to express through any means, a whole world of ideas, which has become as an individual right capable of finding appropriate ways to exercise.

Freedom of information is the ability to research, store, search for information to pass it to a social group. It is a subjective individual right, in its exercise, is on a area of social rights. The right to information is a collective need, a demand of individuals in society.

The basis of the right to information is that all men have the same conceptual way of understanding and willingness capabilities, they are fair in their distribution, therefore, the use and development of these powers have the same equity. But man is part of a society and the role of law with the man and the community to which he belongs is to protect freedom of individuals against the interests of others. In the case of freedom of information, the prohibition of censorship is a clear example: “one can speak of right to information, but if it is, for example, a state in which press censorship prevails, then the right remains a dead letter, not a reality. Whenever there is a complementarity between law and liberty. ” To deny the possibility of complete freedom of information would accept inequality in the possession of these powers.

The right to information is essential to any democratic institution, as the company that makes up this system requires truth and transparency, qualities that must have the exercise of this right. It must be fair and must protect all the properties that make it fundamental. “It is a mission of man and man.” The information disseminated through mass media is receiving public opinion, it to be distributed to the company, enables democratic accountability, freedom and make justice real.

Press freedom is the requirement, is the basis for the proper exercise of the right to information. Therefore, it is important to note that all information should enjoy significant news for the social group which will be broadcast. That is, must be public, must contain a common interest, since it plays an essential role in shaping public opinion of citizens. “The truth and relevance should be public information and deregulation. All information is subject to these two parameters must be absolutely free, loose, and so on. The only criterion should be limited and self-limit the journalist and the information is the requirement of truth and that is a story, a public fact, a fact that is important to the community. ” Therefore, the requirement for information to fulfill its social mission is its accuracy and that should belong to the public sphere, “the public is what belongs to society, so it is something someone should give.” This supports the classification of the media as key elements that constitute the social system, which is related to the state.

Acquires any means as representative of public opinion. “Public opinion is an assessment on a particular issue collectively and widespread majority. This is not the sum of individual private opinions, but the sum of views of social groups that have been undertaken individually by the people in each Group . It is the opinion of the governed. ” The medium is this view, directly relates to its name and prestige, which determines their role as mediators between society and state.

The right to information is accompanied by other freedoms, these subderechos which allow the information are: are the right to receive information, the right to disseminate information and the right to seek information.

The right to inform is subjective. That is, a power to adopt a behavior where no one can forbid and no one is obliged to perform it. This law gives the individual the freedom to report. But we must also bear in mind that this freedom in the exercise not only affects the individual, also to the society which is broadcasting the information, therefore this is also a social right, which implies the obligation to provide the means for it is made. Then a right to information should have elements that facilitate its exercise. But this does not correspond to reality, since the freedom of information is subject to the possibility of possession of a medium, who can actually exercising that freedom is the possession of means, newspaper, television, etc. . But this does not mean that the right information in their practice is dead. Who freely make use of the media has to report, exercises the right of others to inform and be informed. This was proposed by the Colombian Constitution “guarantees to every person the freedom … to inform and receive truthful and impartial.”

At the time that the individual has acquired the right to inform society-related obligations to which it belongs, as to the accuracy of the information to disseminate. Who reports to a community through a mass medium should do well by joining a commitment to truth. The right to information is not broadcast an untruthful (“a person is guaranteed freedom … to provide and receive accurate and impartial information”), because their purpose is to know the truth as it is. This right as stated earlier has a good social status, thus being a right that is exercised collectively. This allows citizens to express their views, giving the possibility of forming a willingness by the State. The right to information makes possible the freedom to be truthfully informed.

As mentioned above the right information, is itself made up of a series of freedoms which together enable the practice of the same: freedom of thought, freedom of opinion, freedom to seek information, the ability to disseminate information and entitled to receive it. In Colombia the 1991 Constitution in Articles 20 and 23 mentioned the rights of free access to public documents and request for information, it draws these fundamental rights are protected through special mechanisms (Art 86, the action guardianship).

In conclusion, the right to information is a subjective public liberty, and whoever has this ability is the individual and the society to which it belongs. This is limited in practice by either the lack of media, the economic cost of the same or a lack of equality in terms of ease of access. It is also essential to mention the right information as a key in a democracy and as a mediator of society and state, which is indispensable in the formation of constructive and transparent. “It’s an inherent right to democracy, it is unthinkable in a democratic system, if there is a right to information.”


Think, have opinions and express them are inherent rights, fundamental rights of all human beings, inalienable components of human dignity. “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression: this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to their opinions, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers, by any means of expression. ” Essential part of the due exercise of this fundamental right is the freedom of the press.

Through this freedom can and should exercise and promote political freedom and other fundamental or basic rights to life, as well as rights to peace and equality and solidarity between human beings. Press freedom is the source of accessible and functional element in the maintenance of those rights so little respected. Therefore, the repression of that freedom does not allow the proper development of a society, so the journalist Fernando Castello said in his article: Freedom of the press for what “Without freedom of the press, no freedom without freedom based on respect for human rights, there is full human development of people.” To ensure press freedom in a state, is helping to eliminate barriers to these fundamental rights in the life of human beings to enjoy a proper exercise and development. For this reason, the aforementioned author dares to call this freedom, “freedom of freedoms”, this definition can be interpreted as the freedom for excellence, for other freedoms are subordinated to it, it is possible to enjoy other freedoms, without the proper practice of press freedom.

Another fundamental role of press freedom as a servant of society is to be the essential component in any process of democratic and economic development, because it allows political transparency, claims of responsibility, fighting corruption and building an economy stable. In every society, freedom of press is essential for good governance and accountability, ie the backbone for the health and reproduction of a healthy democratic system, the practice of it, enables the individual to be a citizen and be able to participate in public decision making. It also offers the possibility that the citizen knows about the most momentous events of their daily lives. “Press freedom is a fundamental pillar of human rights and other freedoms guaranteed, it promotes transparency and a fair policy. A free press ensures that society is not only governed by existing laws, but enjoy indeed the rule of law. ”

On completion of the previously exposed, can be defined press freedom as an end to the public good. That is, the right of a chore, which is mandated to meet and exercise other rights. This has caused the role of the media fulfills an increasingly important role in public life of society, the activity of power in shaping opinions and citizen access to information, this requires more responsibility from the media, where the journalist in the exercise of their profession immediately became a commitment to public interest and the common good. Sometimes confuses the true function of a free press, so it can speak of the legitimacy of the media.

When referring to the legitimacy of the media in fulfilling speaking journalists to provide information to society, but accurate, the journalist’s commitment to the truth. Social responsibility implies respect for fundamental rights in Colombia press freedom is supported by the State, the State’s commitment to press freedoms and rights that this basically means is embodied in three articles 20, 73 and 74 of the Constitution of Colombia, 1991. “It guarantees everyone the freedom to express and disseminate his thoughts and opinions, to transmit and receive truthful and impartial, and to establish mass media. These are free and have social responsibility. The right to rectification on equal terms. There is no censorship. ” Focusing on this article, we note that the right to press freedom would not be valid if the information dissemination is not true, is not legitimate and the citizen has the fundamental right to demand it, it is clear that the only truth there is, This is why the fact that the information relates can be explained in different ways, but all true.

There is another aspect that could be classified information disseminated by the press as legitimate, this is the need of public importance, a basic requirement of any democratic society. Ie, press freedom is exercised through the dissemination of information but not all information may be subject to the freedom of the press. The reason for this requirement is required by the importance the media play in shaping public opinion, if these do not meet their social and democratic structure of public opinion, we find that “freedom of liberties” may called debauchery, which is determined by the condition of journalist ethics.

Press freedom is a vehicle that allows the development of other basic human rights and the same way, complements the proper practice in a democratic system, providing citizens with a provision in its involvement and sometimes helps to prevent major atrocities, as to whistleblowing. Press freedom is an extension of freedom of thought and opinion, “freedom of expression is essential for democracy and to establish constructive relations between government and society.” Being a journalist involves responsibility to the common good, where he is the limitation of their freedom, their ethics and their commitment to society are the factors that determine the limits of that power.

APPLICATION OF THE CONCEPT: News of a Kidnapping, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

News of a Kidnapping, is a book that is the renowned author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It tells the story of a kidnapping group of ten people which was executed by a corporation, and only objective.

The main reason for the war told in the book, was the narco-terror at the prospect of being extradited to the United States, where they could subject them to gargantuan sentences for their crimes. This could be carried out because of a treaty under the government of President Julio Cesar Turbay, where it was agreed for the first time the extradition of nationals. The fear of terrorists continued under the regime of President Belisario Betancourt, who applied the treaty with a number of extraditions caused by her murder of Lara Bonilla. Given that the Extraditables, masterminds of the terrorist wave of the time and who had for leader Pablo Escobar, they realized that the safest place for them was Colombia, leaving as the only way to get under the state protection. In pursuit of this protection developed two mechanisms, one reason and another by force. The first was a proposal to the government in which they agreed to surrender to justice and invest their capital in Colombia with the condition he not be extradited, the second was not asked any agreement, it was developed with a horrific and indiscriminate terrorism. “We prefer a grave in Colombia to a cell in the United States.”

Between 1989 and 1990 when Cesar Gaviria, ran for the presidency and ran for this office, defended the extradition as an essential tool for justice and issued a decree against drugs approved on 5 September 1990. The 2047 decree raised that those who surrender and confess their crimes could be obtained as the main benefit of non-extradition, who in addition to the confession cooperate with the law, would have a reduction in sentence of up to a third party for the delivery and confession; to one-sixth of justice through collaboration with the accusation. But this formulation was not enough for Extraditables, Pablo Escobar through his lawyers demanded the extradition is not unconditional, that collaboration was not mandatory and protection for their families and allies. To achieve this, launched a wave of kidnappings of journalists in order to pressure the government. The first of Diana Turbay was kidnapped, news director of Krypton and the magazine today x today in Bogota, daughter of former President Julio Cesar Turbay. She was abducted along with his team: Azucena Lievano, Juan Vitta, Richard Becerra, Orlando Acevedo and German journalist based in Colombia, Hero Buss. Another person was kidnapped Marina Montoya, sister of the Secretary General in the government of President Virgilio Barco in captivity had the opportunity to share the prison with two other hostages: Maruja Pachon de Villamizar, journalist, wife of the politician Alberto Villamizar sister of Gloria Pachon Luis Carlos Galan’s widow and chief Focine, the other was kidnapped sister Beatriz Villamizar Alberto Villamizar. After four hours of the abduction of Marina Montoya was kidnapped the managing editor of El Tiempo Francisco Santos.

Throughout this war, journalists were the most affected, where two of the hostages at Extraditables, Diana Turbay and Marina Montoya, lost their lives. As for the arrangements of the Extraditables and government, with the help of several main characters and Alberto Villamizar, Father Garcia Herreros and Family Ochoa, reached an agreement to surrender to justice, later to become reality with a simple bribe, ended in a leak and quiet walk through the surrounding forests of the jail in which they were being held.


As mentioned earlier by the press is the servant of society and plays a major role in a democratic state, it allows its transparency policy and denounced the irregularities that occur in it. Also worth mentioning to the press as the backbone of a society because it allows the development of other fundamental freedoms and promotes transparency in matters of this.

In the book News of a Kidnapping, you can clearly see the importance of the media in a state. From this account, you can imagine how Pablo Escobar and his group of Extraditables visualized essentially the same in society, for the kidnapping of journalists, was a reaction of this group of narco-terrorists as a key to pressure the government comply with their demands, among which were the non-extradition.

This not only can be justified by the kidnapping of journalists between 1990 and 1991 by the drug. You can also support the events that occurred between September 1983 and January 1991, also recounted in the book, because in this era were killed 26 journalists, including Guillermo Cano is director of El Espectador on December 17, 1986. It is also important to note as evidence that at that time was the most affected union of journalists, just because of its importance, was an attempt made to newspaper El Espectador was destroyed by three hundred kilos of dynamite.

Also important is the way in which the Extraditables contradicted in their requests, because while requesting that it respect the fundamental rights of young people in the towns of Medellin that were violated by the police were violating a law as fundamental as freedom, which in turn gave way to the violation of other rights essential to the kidnapped journalists, which was freedom of the press.


As was mentioned in the definitions of freedom of prey and information, media can establish a relationship between state and society. In News of a Kidnapping, the media in their role as mediators met an even more important. In the book chronicles the war between the government and terrorism were key mediating different characters, such as Pablo Escobar’s lawyers, Father Garcia Herreros, Alberto Villamizar, Don Fabio Ochoa and his family, and so on. But one of the main mediators were the media, the latter in its effort to inform the audience of this conflict, allowed both the government and the Extraditables reported that was happening in both territories, and likewise sent messages to rivals. The government did with appearances of characters included in this conflict through the media, sending both to society and to the Extraditables their decisions and at times their proposals. In contrast, the aforementioned terrorist group, was done by published statements by the same means with their demands or responses of the proposals, and also with the transmission of terrorist acts were sometimes responses to government decisions.

It also allowed the media directly or indirectly maintain contact with the hostages, became mediators between families and individuals in captivity. The book relates how the Holy Family with no detour, no messages or disguised and without reserve in the publications of the newspaper El Tiempo, messages sent by the editorial section Pacho Santos, once with the picture of the status of their children and even at one point, as told in the book, he avoided that Francis took his life. The Focus program, which was led by a daughter of Maruja Pachon, allowed this received indirect messages and hidden in his family programs, a clear example of this communication was a program made exclusively for exercise in small spaces, which allowed to do a little better kidnapped his life in captivity.

But the fact that the media allow these parts relate to the conflict, it meant they lost the role of mediator between the state and citizens, because at the time I had with the hostages and Extraditables, fulfilling its function of informing the made to society.


The right to information on content have other freedoms as well as exercise allows them to be carried out. The freedoms of this right is freedom of information and the right to be informed, so that they in fact is very important meet two requirements: that the information is of public interest and of course that is true. Therefore the media must possess these two requirements, since some of the social functions of the media is the formation of public opinion.

In the facts in the book, was allowed to see the treatment of the public and the media. A clear case in which you can see the influence of the media was Nidya Quintero statement to the media at the time he learned that his daughter Diana Turbay was dead. In the press conference Extraditables blamed both the government and the death of his daughter, and with great resentment was directed to the president as “frivolous and indifferent.” This statement was broadcast live by all means, and therefore public opinion sympathizes with the pain and questioned the role of government in the conflict. This example is bald to show how the influence of the media can change suddenly the view of a society.

Another book in which the media played a major role was in the transmission of El Minuto de Dios, a program broadcast by Inravision, directed and presented by Father Garcia Herreros. In one of his broadcasts, in front of the cameras sent a message to Pablo Escobar, where it was at their disposal for its delivery according to justice. This issue caused a great stir public opinion to the point of no longer believe as a saint, but as stated several times a fool. This is another of the facts narrated in the book, which supports once again the media as a public builders.


As previously stated, the media have a priority to serve the society to which they belong, that what other freedoms are subject promoting the right to information, contributing to a democratic transparency and denouncing the irregularities affecting society. Therefore, it can be referred to the media as a task that aims to the common good.

In the book under review, based on the concepts presented, there was a fact of great importance to the media qualifies as having a social good. The fact to which reference is made to a campaign on television dedicated to the hostages by Extraditables call: Colombia’s Claim. This was done by director Nora Asomedios Sanin and Maria del Rosario Ortiz, this was to invite key people from film, television, football, among others, to ask for the release of the abductees and respect human rights. This is justified as a social good, by the fact denounce irregularities affecting the society and also to proclaim and promote respect for basic rights such as freedom in all areas. Another reason behind this fact is the solidarity of the media showing this program, from a conflict that belonged to all politicians.


The right to information is a collective need and a demand for individuals in a society that allows for democratic accountability, makes real freedom and justice. Relating this definition to the book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez News of a Kidnapping, is worth noting that allows it to publish in any way in its content, denouncing the abuses of human rights narco Colombian society, calling for this half the justice that every democratic state must possess, and the same, transmitting a civic responsibility in the narrative of what he calls “the most difficult and sad life, that through this book reflects what was a allowing individuals actually a reflection as citizens of a State.

The right to information in their exercise enables other liberties: thought, opinion, right to information and be informed and to seek information, enshrined in Colombia in Article 20 of the Constitution. In News of a Kidnapping, the author exercising freedom of information, allowing the other faculties. Freedom of thought, opinion and expression as the hostages were able to express their experiences in this book, freedom to information, since the publication of this book allowed society to know more deep and true what happened in the war on narco-terrorism and the role of government in it, giving them the opportunity to form a public opinion more concrete bases. To inform, Marquez with his book because he exercised his right individual to provide information to society and to the advantage of possessing the means to do so.

For the right to information is legitimate in their practice, spreading the message, you must have the public interest and veracity. The book by the mere fact of telling a war against the violation of human rights and has common interests and more when it comes to a story in which narrated from beginning to end the era of narco-terrorism suffered by the Colombian people, and that the publication of this book gives the possibility that many did not know details. As to the veracity of the information, with the confrontation of sources is shown. A clear example is the report presented in the book of the death of Diana Turbay, which put both the version of the evaluative study of the Attorney General, the Elite Corps and the Extraditables. Revealing the truth as it was, according to data collection.

In conclusion News of a Kidnapping by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, exercises the right to information, fulfills its social function and allows this right includes freedoms are exercised.

Regarding press freedom, this book denounces the violation of fundamental rights, which at the time of narration were so little respected, established as an essential element in maintaining and denouncing them and the barriers that these were exercised. In the sense of press freedom as a servant of society, given the possibility that the citizen knows the most momentous events of their daily lives, as was the war against Pablo Escobar and extradited. And finally it is important to note that Marquez in their exercise of press freedom, was denounced by the violation of his book suffered Colombia and colleagues of the same faculty he was practicing.


After developing the application of the concept of freedom of press and information to the book News of a Kidnapping by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, it can be concluded regarding the role played by media in the government’s war against narco-terrorism and the latter against extradition as follows:

One of the key elements in the mediation of the government and Extraditables were the media through them as participants in this war reporting and informed decisions, needs, reactions, and responses to actions them. In terms of public opinion the influence of the media in the formation of this is indisputable, because the information they were transmitting allowed the company to assume a position on the conflict that existed at the time of narco-terrorism, and this Just as building a collective assessment against it. In the definition of the media as having a common good, with the same campaign by Colombia’s Claims, established themselves as defenders of human rights were violated by this time and poorly enforced, fulfilling its role of promoting other fundamental freedoms for men. Finally and most important theme is to point to the media as essential and key element in the success of a society, this book is presented by the action of the Extraditables to use journalists as their most important vehicle to push the government to the non-extradition.

On the issue of how to affect the freedom of press and information in the conflict already mentioned, one can conclude that this itself was concerned, because the target narco taken among journalists, just because of its importance, an attack not only against their work and their lives, but a right as fundamental as freedom, and a way to impose a blackout on it, disrespecting their freedom of thought, expression, opinion and of course freedom of press and information .


Gabriel Garcia Marquez. News of a Kidnapping. Editorial Norma. Bogota, 1996. Pages 336.

Antje VOLLMER. Freedom of the Word: The strength of criticism. Deutschland magazine. Germany, February / March 2000. P. 40.

Doornaert Mia. Press freedom is a human right: the right of opinion. Deutschland magazine. Germany, February / March 2000. P. 44.

Freimut Duve. In the interests of stability and pluralism: the OSCE supports the media. Deutschland magazine. Germany, February / March 2000. P. 48.

Gernot ROTTER. Freedom of Opinion and Civilization: dialogue of cultures. Deutschland magazine. Germany, February / March 2000. P. 52.

OSORIO Hugo. Information: an individual right to public good. Contributions Magazine. Buenos Aires, April / June 1998 VOL 15. P. 7.

Lluis SERRA Racing. Legal System Information. Ariel law. Spain, March 1996. pages 39 – 106, 116 to 119, 159 – 177. Political Constitution of Colombia 1991.
Courtesy: Charity Graff



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