|

You are here

Mexico: Woman journalist’s murder turns Veracruz into deadliest state for media this year

The discovery of the body of Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz, a crime reporter and columnist for the regional daily Notiver on July 26 in the east-coast port city of Veracruz, adds her name to the long list of journalists who have been murdered or have disappeared in Mexico. A total of 77 have been killed since 2000 and 23 have gone missing since 2003.

According to a Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) tally, seven Mexican journalists have been murdered since the start of the year and an eighth is missing. In two of the cases, there was a direct link with the victim’s work.

Ordaz was the third journalist to be killed this year in Veracruz state, making it the deadliest single state for the media so far this year. The other two were a colleague of Ordaz at Notiver, Miguel Ángel López Velasco, also known as “Milo Vela”, and Noel López Olguín.

“In this case, as in most of the previous ones, which are still unpunished, we are outraged by the way the local authorities rule out any link with the victim’s work as a journalist and encourage nasty rumours about the victim even before they start investigating the case,” said RSF, which visited Veracruz state shortly before this week’s tragedy.

“Ordaz was one of those journalists who were exposed to danger because of their reporting speciality. At the same time, a link to organized crime obviously cannot be excluded in a state where three feared gangs, the Zetas, the Gulf Cartel and Michoacán’s La Familia, operate. And it is hard not to link Ordaz’s murder with that of her colleague, López, whose columns may have upset certain officials.”

RSF added: “In a climate fraught with suspicion and self-censorship, there is an urgent need for mechanisms to protect journalists.” A new, federal-level security agreement signed last November has still not been implemented.

Ordaz was found with her throat cut near the offices of the Imagen del Golfo newspaper 48 hours after her abduction on July 24. A written message found beside the body said: “Friends also betray. Sincerely, Carranza.” Juan Carlos Carranza Saavedra, 33, has been identified by the state prosecutor as the person who murdered López and his family in June. “The motive could be linked to a personal difference” between López and Carranza, the prosecutor’s office said, without offering any further explanation.

During its recent visit to Veracruz, RSF learned that, a few days before his murder, López had a heated exchange of words with a nephew of state governor Javier Duarte about information published in Notiver. On the morning of his murder, a column by López had questioned the reputation of two candidates for the job of Veracruz city traffic police chief. Several journalists also told RSF that journalists had been fired at several news media on direct orders from local officials.

In the Ordaz murder, the state prosecutor’s office immediately ruled out any link with her work as a journalist, but said investigators were working on the theory that it had something to do with her “links to organised crime.” Notiver’s management did not want to answer RSF's questions for the time being.

Ordaz is the fourth woman journalist to be killed in Mexico in the past decade. Guadalupe García Escamilla of radio Estéreo 91 was murdered in Nuevo Laredo (Tamaulipas) on April 16, 2005. Felicitas Martínez and Teresa Bautista of Triqui indigenous community radio station La Voz que Rompe el Silencio were the victims of a double murder in Oaxaca state on April 7, 2008. A fifth woman journalist, Maria Esther Aguilar Cansimbe, has been missing in Michoacán state since November 11, 2009.

A report prepared for a US congressional committee headed by Republican senator Charles Grassley revealed yesterday that 122 firearms from the United States were found at crime scenes in Mexico or were intercepted en route to Mexican drug cartels.

Date posted: July 27, 2011 Last modified: May 12, 2018 Total views: 151