Voices in Danger: With the drug cartels in control, a Mexican editor has been forced to flee for his life

Since 2010, 97 journalists have been killed in Mexico in connection with their work

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The Independent Online

The same week that the decapitated body of José Moisés Sanchez was buried, an editor fled for his life when three gunmen abducted him in broad daylight and beat him in a van while they drove around the northeastern border town Matamoros, Mexico. Enrique Juárez Torres, editor of the privately owned daily El Mañana, went into hiding last month in an undisclosed location, after one night of contemplating his future.

Shortly before this happened, El Mañana's morning paper led with a story on drug cartel violence. Hours later gunmen stormed the offices of El Mañana in search of Editor Enrique Juarez Torres. Juárez attempted to defend himself with a knife but the three men overpowered him, and took him captive.

They stuffed him into a grey van and drove around the city, all the while punching and kicking him in the head and stomach. His captors threatened to end his life if he continued to publish stories on the drug cartel violence sweeping through the city, and country.

“What they did to me was a warning,” Juárez said of his captors. “It is a warning to all of us who work there, those who are physically in Matamoros and those who are not in Matamoros.”

Juárez's captors eventually dumped his battered body outside the newspaper's building later the same day. He decided to flee Matamoros after one night of deep contemplation about his future. His whereabouts today are unknown.

 

Even though police stood guard outside the El Mañana offices following the attack, at least four other journalists have since resigned.

“We have been threatened twice,” said Hildebrando Deandar, General Director of El Mañana Publishing Group based in Tamaulipas. “But this time we said yes we are going to publish...and after that, we will have to return to self-censorship. Criminals have taken over the editorial line. They say what to publish and what not to publish, and there are consequences.”

Since the attack, Deandar has turned El Mañana back into a vehicle of “soft news” only, and has declared that the Group will no longer report on drug cartel violence, including the attack on Juárez.

“We condemn the abduction of Enrique Juárez Torres and call on federal authorities to immediately investigate the case and prosecute those responsible,” said Carlos Lauría, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) senior program coordinator for the Americas. “It is outrageous that the Mexican drug cartels dictate what the media can or cannot publish. Mexican citizens are being deprived of vital information that is affecting their daily lives.”

A new study by the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) released on the day of the attack on Enrique Juárez Torres reveals 433 attacks against journalists and media offices since 2005, and 97 journalists have been killed in Mexico in connection with their work since 2010.

According to CPJ, 90 per cent of cases remain unresolved. Mexico is ranked seventh on CPJ's 2014 Impunity Index.

I asked a representative of the Mexican government to respond to points raised in this article. They gave no reply.

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