Spanish Basque freelance photographer Borja Lázaro went missing on 8 January 2014 in Cabo de Vela, a village in Colombia’s northeastern department of La Guajira, where he had been doing a series of photo-reportages on indigenous cultures. As he disappeared in a drug-trafficking region dominated by “Bacrim,” criminal gangs that have their origins in the paramilitary movement, he may well have been kidnapped.
Lázaro’s family reported his disappearance to the Colombian and Spanish authorities, who opened a case file on 23 January 2014. In Colombia, the judicial authorities in Riohacha, the capital of La Guajira province, and the police unit that specializes in abduction and extortion (GAULA) kept the case open but refused to provide any information to the Lázaro family, saying that information could only be conveyed through the Spanish foreign ministry.
In Spain, the judicial authorities closed the case on the grounds that Lázaro disappeared in a foreign country. The Ertzaintza, the autonomous police force in Spain’s Basque Country, continues to follow the case, remaining in contact with the Colombian police, and providing the family with information. On 30 August, Reporters Without Borders reported the case to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, which acknowledged receipt of the case.
Almost two years have gone by since Lázaro’s disappearance but his family still knows very little about his fate and the investigation has made no significant progress.