Stephania Cardoso, the newspaper reporter who disappeared on 9 June in the northern state of Coahuila, revealed in a short interview for Radio Fórmula on 15 June that she is alive and well and has her two-year-old son with her.
However, she refused to explain what has happened to her since she went missing or give her present location, and she said she would not get in direct contact with the rest of her family for the sake of their security.
“This is something of a miracle amid the continuing chaos to which Mexican journalists are exposed,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We hope that Cardoso is found and placed in a safe location without delay. At the least sign of danger, a news organization and its staff must be given the protection envisaged under the new legislation making attacks on freedom of information a federal crime.”
Article 19’s Mexico director, Darío Ramírez, told that Cardoso has been in touch with her newspaper, the Saltillo-based Zócalo, and that, as she had requested on the air, the newspaper is putting her in touch with the office of the federal attorney general and the interior ministry.
The Cardoso family told Reporters Without Borders they were delighted to learn that she was all right but confirmed they had not talked to her since 8 June. They added that they hoped she would quickly receive the requested federal protection.
12.05.2012 - Woman reporter and young son feared kidnapped in Coahuila
No convincing explanation or hypothesis has yet been advanced to account for the disappearance of newspaper reporter Hypathia Stephania Rodríguez Cardoso and her 2-year-old son since the early hours of 9 June.
A crime reporter for Zócalo, a local daily based in Saltillo, the capital of the northern state of Coahuila, Rodríguez and her son went missing after attending a Freedom of Expression Day party the previous evening.
Using Twitter, she notified her colleagues shortly after 2 a.m. that she and her son had arrived home safely. After she failed to turn up at work the next day, relatives went to her home and found it in disarray, with her camera on the floor, broken, and the family car missing.
“As her newspaper’s crime reporter, Cardoso may have been the target of a reprisal in what is an extremely dangerous region,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The drug cartels fight openly in Coahuila, a state has borne the brunt of much of the federal offensive against drug trafficking, and no fewer than 1,800 people have gone missing there in the past three years.
“We urge the authorities to make an all-out effort to find this young woman and her son safe and sound, especially as the circumstances described by her family support the terrible suspicion that they were kidnapped from their home.”
Zócalo deputy managing editor Luis Eduardo Mendoza told Reporters Without Borders that Cardoso had worked for the newspaper for the past two years as its senior crime reporter. He added that he did not know if she had received any threats. Reporters Without Borders confirmed that the federal attorney-general’s office has taken charge of the investigation at the request of the National Human Rights Commission.
This is not the first time that a Zócalo journalist has gone missing. Valentín Valdés Espinosa was kidnapped on 7 January 2010 and was found dead the next day, while Rafael Ortíz Martínez has been missing since 8 July 2006.
A total of 84 journalists have been killed in Mexico in the past decade and another 15 have gone missing. Rodríguez is the second woman journalist to disappear, following Michoacán-based reporter María Esther Aguilar Cansimbe, who has been missing since 11 November 2009.