The murder of Norberto Miranda Madrid, the editor of online Radio Visión’s website, on 23 September in the northern state of Chihuahua brings to 55 the number of deaths of journalists in Mexico since 2000 that were clearly or probably linked to their work.
The latest tragic death comes as Reporters Without Borders is preparing to release the report next Monday (28 September) of its latest fact-finding visit to Mexico, from 4 to 12 July. Entitled “Behind the scenes of impunity in Mexico,” the report condemns the passivity of the authorities (and their apparent involvement in some cases) in this disaster for the Mexican media.
More than 14,000 people have died in the offensive against drug trafficking which the federal government launched in December 2006. This situation has unfortunately reinforced Mexico’s ranking as the western hemisphere’s most dangerous country for the media.
“The state of Chihuahua and its border city, Ciudad Juárez, are symbols of the uncontrollable violence resulting from the war between the drug cartels and the all-out military response from the federal authorities,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Norberto Miranda clearly paid with his life for not conforming to the prevailing self-censorship in his coverage of this reality. The Juárez cartel was probably behind his murder.”
The press freedom organisation added: “While calling for justice to be done in this case, we would like to express our reservations about the probable appointment of former Chihuahua state Attorney General Arturo Chávez Chávez as federal Attorney General. His record in his previous post was marred by the total impunity surrounding the serial murders of women workers in Ciudad Juárez.”
According to local police sources, Miranda was murdered by three hooded men who forced their way into the Radio Visión office in Nuevo Casas Grandes, about 200 km from Ciudad Juárez, asked for Miranda and shot him in cold blood after he identified himself.
Aged 44, Miranda wrote op-ed pieces under the pen-name of El Gallito (Little Rooster). His 22 September column (read: http://www.radiovisioncasasgrandes....), referred to the deaths of 25 people in Nuevo Casas Grandes since the start of the month in reprisals blamed on the Juárez Cartel.
On 5 September, “El Gallito” had reported that four mid-ranking members of “La Línea” (The Line), the Juárez Cartel’s armed wing, had been captured in Nuevo Casas Grandes, and that they included Rodolfo Escajada, also known as El Rikín, who is on the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s wanted list.
Eighty per cent of the drugs transiting through Mexico end up in the United States. The same proportion of firearms circulating in Mexico comes from the United States. Because Mexico’s tragedy involves the United States as well, Reporters Without Borders is going to unveil its latest report on Mexico at a news conference in Washington at 9 a.m. on 28 September. This is the link: http://www.rsf.org/Press-conference.html
Miranda’s murder came two days after freelance photographer Jaime Omar Gándara San Martín was stabbed to death in the state of Chihuahua. The motive for Gándara’s murder has not yet been established.