Two journalists killed in separate incidents in Mexico
July 3, 2015
Two journalists were killed today in southern Mexico. In Oaxaca state, the director of a community radio station was shot dead while driving to work; in Veracruz state, an independent blogger known for his crime reporting was found dead on a highway after being reported missing.
Filadelfo Sanchez Sarmiento worked at radio station La Favorita in the municipality of Mihuatlan, Oaxaca. He had worked there for five years, and according to colleagues, had received several death threats in the past. According to the NGO Articulo 19, another reporter was threatened at knife point last year by the brother of the municipal president. The attacker warned "they would kill him if he kept talking bad about his brother for no reason."
There have been three radio producers killed this year in Mexico. A producer was killed at another Oaxaca community radio station in May in the town of Cosolapa, near the border with Veracruz state.
The body of Juan Mendoza Delgado was found on the side of a highway near the city of Veracruz, after his wife reported him missing the day before. Mendoza Delgado was a well-known blogger who reported on crime, accidents and political gossip at his own website. Before starting the site, he had worked for many years at the newspaper El Dictamen and was also a taxi driver.
When he did not return from a taxi shift yesterday, there was speculation on social media that he had been kidnapped. The local State Committee to Protect Journalists even released a news bulletin denouncing his murder.
The reporter's body was found this afternoon. According to the state prosecutor's office, he had been "hit by a car." The office said there were no signs of torture, bullet or knife wounds. Journalists and NGOs have questioned the statement after a photo of the body circulated on social media showing a bandage around the reporter's head. His taxi has not been found.
A day earlier at a dinner celebrating Freedom of Expression, the state governor Javier Duarte had warned journalists involved with criminal gangs to "behave themselves." He said:
Unfortunately, some journalists, employees of the media, have connection to these groups. Behave yourselves. I ask you. Difficult times are coming. We are going to shake the tree and many rotten apples are going to fall.
He later said that journalists not involved with criminals had nothing to fear.
According to SDPNoticias, 12 journalists have been killed in Veracruz state during Duarte's mandate. In January, another reporter was kidnapped, tortured and killed close to where Mendoza Delgado worked.