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Eight journalists abducted, two killed

In Mexico, information can be fatal. Eight journalists were abducted in separate episodes between 18 February and 3 March, report the Center for Journalism and Public Ethics (CEPET), Inter American Press Association (IAPA), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Three journalists were later released; one of them died as a result of being tortured. Mexican journalists in newsrooms remain silent about the kidnappings for fear of reprisals from drug traffickers. And in another part of the country also caught in the terror of drug cartels, another journalist was slain on 12 March.

The abducted journalists work for both print and broadcast media and were kidnapped in Reynosa, northern Tamaulipas State. Sources declined to name the victims or file complaints with authorities due to fear of retaliation or further endangering the victims' lives. The abductions come at a time of bloody clashes between two drug cartels in the Reynosa border area, and the press has been intimidated into not reporting on the violence. Local journalists say the cartels are behind the kidnappings and corrupt police are protecting them. "An escalating internal dispute among drug cartel members has claimed over 200 lives in 14 days and contributed to a media blackout," reports the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

Reporter Jorge Rábago Valdez, 49, who worked for the Reynosa-based daily "La Prensa" and broadcasters Radio Rey and Reporteros en la Red, was abducted on 19 February. He was dumped on a highway less than two weeks later, and was found alive, but unconscious with signs of torture. He died in a hospital on 2 March. Miguel Angel Domínguez Zamora, a reporter for the Reynosa-based "El Mañana", has been missing since 1 March.

Two reporters from the Milenio media group were assigned to cover drug-related violence in Reynosa. They were abducted on 3 March and freed the next day. A top editor at Milenio, Ciro Gómez Leyva, wrote an op-ed saying they had been injured and their abductors had warned them to avoid any reporting on them. "Journalism in Reynosa is dead. I have nothing more to say," he said.

"As drug trafficking, violence, and lawlessness take hold," said CPJ, "the Mexican media are forced into silence. This pervasive self-censorship is causing severe damage to Mexican democracy."

In a separate incident, Mexican reporter Evaristo Pacheco Solís was found shot to death last week in Chilpancingo, Guerrero State - another area convulsed with open warfare between drug gangs, report RSF, CPJ and the International Press Institute (IPI). A reporter with the weekly "Visión Informativa", Pacheco Solís is the second journalist killed in Guerrero this year. According to press reports, at least 15 people died in a series of violent attacks in Guerrero last week.

"As journalist after journalist is slain there, the Mexican population - who stand at the forefront of the government's violent conflict with drug cartels - are being deprived of their right to information, and courageous Mexican journalists are being brutally deprived of their right to inform," said IPI.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Related stories on ifex.org
  • Eight journalists kidnapped in two weeks

    IAPA urges the government to act swiftly to rescue the journalists kidnapped in Tamaulipas and to guarantee freedom of expression.

  • Journalist shot to death in Guerrero

    CPJ is investigating whether Evaristo Pacheco Solís's slaying was linked to his journalism.



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