The Mexican blog El 5antuario reported today that its founder, known as Ruy Salgado or “El 5anto”, has been missing for the past six days.
"Salgado’s disappearance may be voluntary, but he may have been kidnapped or worse and every day that passes without his reappearing rightly increases the concern about his fate," Reporters Without Borders said. "If he disappeared voluntarily, he would not be the first person to choose temporary silence. More and more journalists are fleeing the country or the region where they work.
"The fact that El 5antuario has been weakened by Salgado’s disappearance is another setback for the free flow of news and information, which has already been dealt a series of blows since last July’s elections. Every effort must be made to locate him or to enable him to resume blogging safely."
Salgado has been missing since 8 September, a day before he was due to attend a speech by left-wing presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico City’s central Zócalo square, at which López Obrador announced he was leaving the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) for the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA).
El 5antuario’s supporters and contributors have announced that, if Salgado does not turn up within 48 hours, they will file a missing person’s report with the authorities and provide all the information needed for a judicial investigation.
El 5antuario, which did a lot of reporting during the controversial 1 July election, has specialized in covering corruption within government institutions. Some of its contributors work for these institutions and are direct witnesses of the corruption.
As a safety measure, El 5antuario’s contributors are anonymous. They use pseudonyms, do not know each other personally and wear masks when they appear in a video. Salgado nonetheless reported that he and his blog had been the target of serious threats in recent months:
The day Salgado disappeared, 20 free speech NGOs, including Article 19 and the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), denounced the way of elaboration of the Federal Mechanism for Protecting Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, an entity required under a newly promulgated constitutional reform making violence against freedom of information a federal crime.
The NGOs criticized the lack of transparency in the way the government is choosing organizations to be members of the mechanism’s consultative council, and called for the selection to be subjected to public scrutiny. They also accused the government of failing to specify its selection criteria or say what skills it is looking for in the council’s members.
The mechanism’s executive coordinator, Omeheira Lopez Reyna, refused to recognize any errors in the methods she is using but told Reporters Without Borders she was ready to reopen talks about the consultative council’s composition. Reporters Without Borders supports the demand for more transparency.