Local radio presenter Filadelfo Sánchez Sarmiento was gunned down by two men yesterday as he was leaving his radio station in Miahuatlan, a town in the southern state of Oaxaca, becoming the third journalist to be killed in Mexico in the space of a week. The other two were murdered in Veracruz and Guanajuato states.
Sánchez, who worked for La Favorita 103.3 FM, had reported receiving threats, during elections last month. In a Facebook post on 6 June, he wrote: “Death threats against me again, and the announcement that the radio will be burned down on Sunday 7 June...” Relatives also reported that he and one of his colleagues received several death threats in September 2014 from persons close to Miahuatlan’s mayor without any investigation ever being carried out. Oaxaca’s governor said in a press release that he had asked the state prosecutor to “deploy all the human and legal resources necessary for carrying out the investigation and obtaining the arrest of these responsible for the radio announcer’s murder.” “We are appalled by all these murders of journalists in Mexico,” Reporters Without Borders programme director Lucie Morillon said. “Three deaths in a week – when will the violence stop? “We call on the Oaxaca, Veracruz and Guanajuato authorities to ensure that impartial, independent and thorough investigations are carried out and that those responsible for these despicable crimes are arrested. We also urge the authorities to make sure investigators do not systematically rule a possible link to the victim’s journalistic work right from the start of the investigation.” The body of Juan Mendoza Delgado, a local news website editor based in Medellín de Bravo, in the eastern state of Veracruz, was found in a Veracruz morgue yesterday, a day after he was reported missing. His body was reportedly taken to the morgue after he was run down by a car. Just a few days ago, the governor of Veracruz was very critical of journalists, accusing them of being linked to organized crime and warning them to “behave themselves.” The past week’s third victim was Gerardo Nieto Alvarez, the editor of El Tábano, a local newspaper, whose body was found in Comonfort, in the central state of Guanajuato, on 26 June. His throat had been cut. This is the first time a journalist has been murdered in such a violent manner in Guanajuato. The prosecutor in charge of investigating Nieto’s murder immediately ruled out any possibility of a link with his journalism, eliciting protests from his family, who told Reporters Without Borders they were convinced he was killed because of his work as a journalist. His son told Reporters Without Borders: “My father’s laptop has disappeared. It contained all the information he was going to publish. The prosecutor has not said anything about that.” Veracruz and Oaxaca are among Mexico’s deadliest states for journalists. The high rate of violent crime in these two states is blamed on the organized crime presence and local government corruption. Three other journalists have been murdered so far this year in Mexico: Moisés Sánchez Cerezo in Veracruz, and Abel Manuel Bautista Raymundo and Armando Saldaña Morales in Oaxaca. The western hemisphere’s deadliest country for journalists in 2015, Mexico is ranked 148th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.