Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns the murder of Humberto Millán Salazar, a journalist based in Culiacán, in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, who edited the online newspaper A-Discussion and presented a programme on Radio Formula. His body was found yesterday, a day after his abduction in Culiacán. He had been shot in the head.
Gunmen kidnapped Millán on 24 August together with his handicapped brother, who was released at Millán’s request. His body was discovered yesterday morning in Campo Morelia, 10 km north of the city. The Sinaloa prosecutor’s office said measures have been taken to protect his relatives and some of his colleagues.
The murder is being investigated by a team set up by Sinaloa state prosecutor Marco Antonio Higuera Gómez in coordination with the federal prosecutor-general’s office. The state prosecutor’s office confirmed that an investigation was under way but declined to say what hypotheses it was working on.
Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities not to rule out the possibility that Millán was killed in connection with his work. He was frequent critic of the local authorities and, on the eve of his abduction, had published an article about the municipal government’s management of its accounts in A-Discusión.
He was the second journalist to be murdered in Mexico in the past month.
25.08.2011 - Gunmen abduct veteran journalist in Sinaloa state
Reporters Without Borders urges the federal authorities to do everything in their power to find Humberto Millán Salazar, editor of the online newspaper A-Discussion and presenter of the programme “Sin Ambages” (Plain Language) on Radio Formula, who was kidnapped by gunmen yesterday in Culiacán, the capital of the northwestern state of Sinaloa.
Millán’s abduction, which brings to 14 the number of journalists who have gone missing since 2003, came just a month after the kidnapping of Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz, a reporter for Notiver, a regional daily in the eastern state of Veracruz, who was found 48 hours later with her throat cut.
“Mexico is still one of the hemisphere’s most dangerous countries for journalists,” Reporters Without Borders said. “A total of 19 have been killed in a continuing wave of terror since the start of 2010. In eight of these cases, the motive was clearly linked to the victim’s work. It is high time the authorities implemented the ‘protection mechanisms’ for journalists that were ratified under the federal interior ministry’s aegis in November 2010.
“We point out that the Sinaloa Cartel, one the Mexico’s leading drug-trafficking organizations, has been on the Reporters Without Borders list of Predators of Press Freedom for several years.”
According to a Sinaloa police communiqué, Millán had just left his office in Fraccionamiento Canaco, a district in the northern part of the city, when his car was intercepted by gunmen in two vehicles. José Alfredo Beltrán, the head of the “7 de Junio” journalists’ association, to which Millán belongs, told Reporters Without Borders that Millán’s handicapped brother, who was kidnapped with him, was released at Millán’s request.
Aged 53, Millán has been a journalist for the past 30 years. The media he has worked for include Radio UAS (a station operated by the Autonomous University of Sinaloa) and the newspapers El Debate and El Sol de Sinaloa. He covers regional politics and is critical of the local government.
The Sinaloa state prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation into the abduction and has requested assistance from the special prosecutor’s office for attacks on the news media. Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to work on the assumption that Millán’s kidnapping is linked to his work as a journalist, and to provide his family with immediate protection, especially his brother, who was a witness of the abduction.
The toll from the federal offensive against drug trafficking that President Felipe Calderón launched in December 2006, using 50,000 troops, is more than 50,000 dead nationwide, and more than 15,000 in 2010 alone. This undeclared war is being accompanied by a parallel bloody war among the cartels for control of the trafficking. The result has been a tragic deterioration in the working environment for journalists, especially in the north of the country.
Reporters Without Borders continues to relay the “No more blood - No más sangre” campaign by leading Mexican cartoonists.