Colombian Germán Castro Caycedo, the chronicler who took the cameras out of the studios, dies | Culture


Germán Castro Caycedo at his home in Bogotá, in an August 2010 image.
Germán Castro Caycedo at his home in Bogotá, in an August 2010 image.Camilo Rozo

Germán Castro Caycedo, tireless reporter and writer of reference for several generations of Colombian journalists, master of the trade and author of some twenty investigative books translated into several languages, He died this Thursday as confirmed by his family. In the 70s he revolutionized national television with his program Special Envoy. His long career made him one of the most widely read chroniclers in his country, with emblematic titles such as I leave my soul to the devil, a story that takes place in its longed-for Amazon jungle; The Karina, on a ship that transported arms for the guerrilla of the M-19; or The hollow, which addresses the exodus of Colombians who migrate to New York.

He was “the chronicler with the longest, deepest and most coherent career that the country has perhaps had,” the newspaper said Time, where he worked for a decade in which he toured different regions. In those pages his signature began to be recognized in the late sixties, a privilege that saved him from the daily bustle of the news. “Their investigated stories, with first-hand testimonies collected at the scene of the events – often forgotten or remote municipalities – made a difference with a journalism that used to be done from the desks”, according to the profile of Castro Caycedo in the book Made to tell that gathers in-depth conversations with ten renowned Colombian journalists.

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Television, where he applied the same formula, increased his recognition. Starting in 1976, he directed the weekly program Special Envoy, a kind of journalistic special of which more than a thousand chapters were produced that represented various national and international recognitions.

Castro Caycedo was born in 1940 in the small town of Zipaquirá, an hour’s drive from Bogotá, in the center of the country, and studied Anthropology at the National University of Colombia, but did not graduate. “The jungle stories and the police stories caught my attention,” he told the magazine. Bocas in a extensive interview in 2012. Boats were added to those recurring obsessions in his books. There he told that he survived two plane accidents during his raids through deep Colombia and that more than 20 years ago he hit his head in Russia, while investigating for one of his extensive reports, which left him without taste and smell .

“That was the first program that the camera took out of the studios,” he said in that interview Special Envoy, much remembered for reaching the most remote places of the Colombian geography. “I started making a television report, traveling all over the country. The barriers at that time were communications. We had fewer means, fewer routes. The first programs were in the jungle, in the Vaupés and north of the Amazon. Many hours of travel. We carried the cameras by mule, by plane, by boat, there were five of us, ”he recalled. Until then, many Colombians had never seen the jungle on national television.

Behind each of his stories, there was always at least one journey. “Lack of time is the misfortune of journalism today. If the journalist goes to the jungle, he cannot return in half an hour. And if you go to the jungle then you have to live the jungle. Go and see sunrise and sunset there. That is and has been journalism in the world, “he said as a declaration of principles Facts to tell. “You can’t do a report or a chronicle if you don’t go to the place where things happened.”

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