RAN 27/10 30 March 2010
The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC) protests the deaths of two more Mexican print journalists and the reported disappearance of at least five others in March 2010. Evaristo Pacheco Solís was found shot dead near Chipancingo, Guerrero state, on 12 March while Jorge Rábago Valdez died in unclear circumstances in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, on 2 March. Seven other journalists were reportedly abducted in Tamaulipas in early March, five of whom are thought still to be missing. The WiPC calls on the federal and state authorities to investigate the deaths of Pacheco and Rábago as well as the reported abductions as a matter of the utmost urgency, and to bring the culprits to justice.
Evaristo Pacheco Solís, reporter for the weekly newspaper Visión Informativa, was found dead in Guerrero state on 12 March 2010. Pacheco (33) had been shot several times and his body left by the side of a road near the state capital Chilpancingo. He is the second print journalist to be murdered in Guerrero this year (see Background for details).
Ten days earlier, another journalist died in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, in disputed circumstances. Jorge Rábago Valdez, journalist for the daily newspaper La Prensa and two radio stations, died on 2 March. The state prosecutor’s office said that Rábago (49) died of natural causes after suffering an embolism (obstruction of a blood vessel) and falling into a diabetic coma. However, according to some local reporters, Rábago had reportedly been stopped by police and badly beaten prior to being admitted to hospital. The state prosecutor has reportedly denied that the reporter was assaulted.
It is not yet known whether Pacheco and Rábago’s deaths were related to their journalism.
Seven other journalists were reportedly abducted in Reynosa around the time of Rábago’s death: two have since been released and one has been confirmed disappeared while five others remain missing. Miguel Ángel Domínguez Zamora, reporter for the Reynosa-based daily newspaper El Mañana has been missing since 1 March 2010; his family has reported the disappearance to the state prosecutor’s office. Two broadcast journalists from the Milenio media group assigned to cover a wave of drug-related violence in Reynosa were abducted by gunmen on 3 March and released the next day after being told to leave the area. As of 11 March there were unconfirmed reports that at least four other journalists had been abducted: they have not been named but work, respectively, for the newspapers El Mañana, La Tarde and La Prensa and the news website MetroNoticias. MetroNoticias has reportedly stated that its reporter is safe but would not provide further details or make the reporter available for comment.
Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. From January 2004 to December 2009, a total of 27 writers – 26 print journalists and one author – were murdered. Six more print journalists disappeared in the same period. Few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated or punished. International PEN believes that it is likely that these journalists were targeted in retaliation for their critical reporting, particularly on drug trafficking. While organised crime groups are responsible for many attacks, state agents, especially government officials and the police, are reportedly the main perpetrators of violence against journalists, and complicit in its continuance.
Guerrero has become one of the most dangerous states in Mexico for journalists as a result of a turf war between two drug cartels and the state and federal forces’ attempts to remain in control. Pacheco is the second print journalist to be murdered in Guerrero this year. On 29 January, Jorge Ochoa Martínez, publisher of the newspapers El Oportuno and El Sol de la Costa, was shot dead after leaving a party for a local politician (see RAN 08/10 of 3 February 2010: http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/go/news/mexico-newspaper-publisher-shot-dead).
The alleged abductions in Tamaulipas came amid a series of extremely violent confrontations between two drug cartels in the Reynosa border area. Most local journalists have reportedly been intimidated into not covering the violence.
Reports on Pacheco’s death:
•Committee to Protect Journalists (15 March 2010): http://cpj.org/2010/03/mexican-reporter-shot-to-death-in-guerrero.php (English); http://cpj.org/es/2010/03/mexico-periodista-asesinado-a-balazos-en-guerrero.php (Spanish)
•Reporters Without Borders (15 March 2010): http://www.rsf.org/Another-journalist-shot-dead-amid.html (English), http://www.rsf.org/Otro-periodista-sucumbe-ante-las.html (Spanish)
Reports on Rábago’s death and alleged abductions in Tamaulipas:
•Committee to Protect Journalists (11 March 2010): http://cpj.org/2010/03/drug-related-violence-endangers-media-in-reynosa.php (English); http://cpj.org/es/2010/03/violencia-del-narcotrafico-pone-en-peligro-a-la-pr.php (Spanish)
•Reporters Without Borders (10 March 2010): http://www.rsf.org/At-least-one-journalist-missing-in.html (English); http://www.rsf.org/Ola-de-violencia-en-el-estado-de.html (Spanish)