Raúl Benoit was born to a French father and Colombian mother in Cali, Colombia on August 12, 1960. He is an author, journalist and international television news correspondent.
When he was nine years old, he began to write a neighborhood newsletter that he distributed to his neighbors for ten cents. Later, he founded a school and university newspaper that had a circulation of 5000 copies monthly. He began to work with radio broadcasting and print journalism. At 14 years old, he was a contributor and then a coordinator for the El País daily newspaper in Cali on the Gente Joven section (Young People) and from the age of 16, he presented and directed youth programming at Caracol Radio, a small broadcast network that later became one of the best–known in Colombia. Later he moved to Todelar, the largest network of broadcast stations at that time, and at 18 years of age, he also became the director of Farándula magazine under the Occidente newspaper, turning into a strong defender of artists’ rights.
In January of 1982, he was named correspondent for the television program, Hoy por Hoy, a variety show, and worked on the news program, Siete Días en el Mundo (Seven Days around the World), broadcast by Globo Televisión of Colombia. Later, he worked as a correspondent in Cali, a reporter in Bogotá, and finally, as Head of News for the news show, Noticiero Promec, up until 1987. From time to time, he also worked as a news announcer.
Between 1984 and 1986, he was a correspondent for the news agency, Colprensa (Colombiana de Prensa) and a contributor to Cromos magazine.
His experience as a war reporter marked his career, and he dedicated his time to these types of news reports.
Raúl Benoit became known internationally throughout the Spanish-speaking world when he joined the Univision television network in August 1987, as a news reporter. Two years later, in September 1989, he signed an exclusive contract appointing him as Head of the Colombian Office of Univision. He organized a work team that worked skillfully, wisely and courageously and this opened doors for him in international journalism.
He was a pioneer in denouncing the infiltration by the drug cartels into political life and revealing the tragic alliances between drug traffickers and the communist guerrilla groups and drug traffickers and the right-wing military groups, known as the paramilitaries, who attacked those on the left. He came head to head with Pablo Escobar (Head of the Medellin Cartel, killed in December, 1993) when he published the story of the “narcoterrorist” war launched by Pablo Escobar and his mafia companions in order to avoid their extradition to the United States. In 1986, Benoit was kidnapped by Escobar to send a threatening message to the director of television news where he worked. Years later, in 1990, he escaped a second attempt when several men from the Medellin Cartel, disguised as (leftwing) guerrillas, tried to take him to a hideout run by the Extraditables (the Cartel’s armed group), where other journalists were being held. The plan was to offer them in exchange for a decision by Colombian politicians and society to annul their extradition to the United States.
Benoit reported on those who were guilty of the “business” of the Colombian war. He denounced the corruption that caused poverty, the abuse and neglect by the State, and violations of Human Rights, all part of life in Colombia, which had been immersed in a civil war for more than 50 years and where the disintegration of the society and State, and violence by the guerrilla and paramilitary groups, caused thousands of victims every year. As the bearer of this news to the world, he was accused of presenting a negative image of Colombia abroad and of having sold out. His enemies organized a campaign to oppose his journalistic work, thereby creating such a treacherous and dangerous level of unpopularity that it practically encouraged the cartels who were calling for his murder.
Benoit was threatened many times and survived four gunshot attacks and two other assassination attempts. In August 2000, one of his bodyguards was murdered. In another attack, on February 2001, in Cali, a police officer dressed in civilian clothing, working for the mafia, shot at the journalist and missed him but injured another of his bodyguards. Benoit had to leave the country and move abroad for his safety.
In mid-2001, he continued as a staff correspondent in Mexico City and then was promoted to Investigative Journalist for the Aquí y Ahora show, which was broadcast internationally from Miami in the United Status, on Sundays at 7 pm on Univision channel. Currently, he is employed on that program. He has received many awards, from the Simón Bolívar National Journalism Award, which he received in Colombia in 1987, to the distinction of being recognized in 2001 as one of the 100 most influential Hispanic journalists in the United States. He has also received many awards in Colombia, as well as a special mention at the Emmy Awards for his coverage of the World Trade Center attack in New York.
Miami, Florida, U.S.A.
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