Seven years after Mexican reporter’s still unpunished murder, presidential candidates asked to commit to combatting impunity

On the eve of the seventh anniversary of the still unpunished murder of Miroslava Breach, a Mexican newspaper reporter who covered organised crime’s influence within the northern state of Chihuahua’s government, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and its local partner Propuesta Cívica (PC) are calling on Mexico’s presidential candidates to commit to combatting impunity for violence against journalists.

A well-known investigative reporter for two newspapers, La Jornada and El Norte de Ciudad Juárez, Miroslava Breach was gunned down near her home in Chihuahua City on 23 March 2017, at the age of 54, for exposing the links between drug cartels and political groups in Chihuahua state in connection with local elections.

The three presidential candidates in the Mexican elections due to be held on 2 June – the Morena’s party’s Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo, Xóchitl Gálvez of the coalition Fuerza y Corazón por México, and Movimiento Ciudadano candidate Jorge Álvarez Máynez – have been given a report about systemic impunity for crimes of violence against journalists in Mexico and are being urged to help fight for justice for these crimes.

Miroslava Breach’s murder is one of the two emblematic cases on which the report focuses. While some of her murder’s perpetrators have been tried and convicted, the instigators have been left untouched.

“The murder of Miroslava Breach is one of the most emblematic cases of violence against journalists in Mexico in recent years. On the anniversary of her death, we want to pay tribute to her work as a reporter and to call on those who intend to lead the country to prioritise combatting impunity for crimes of violence against journalists. In a country where the number of journalists killed is the highest in Latin America, the future president must commit to protecting media professionals and to ensuring that justice is done in cases that are too often sidelined or only partially addressed.

Artur Romeu
director of RSF’s Latin America bureau

One of the perpetrators of Breach’s murder, Juan Carlos Moreno Ochoa, also known as "El Larry," was sentenced to 50 years in prison in 2020. And former Chínipas mayor Hugo Amed Schultz was given an eight-year sentence in 2021 for his role in the murder. But many of the people implicated in planning and carrying out the murder are still at large, and Breach’s family have never received any compensation from the Mexican state.

“The Miroslava Breach case has left its mark on the history of Mexican journalism, not only because of the importance of her investigative reporting, but also because of the circumstances surrounding her murder – the involvement of civil servants, politicians and organised crime actors, obstruction of the investigation from within the prosecutor's office, and the threats against the journalist's family. And seven years later, the murder remains unpunished. The two convictions are not enough. Not all those responsible for her murder have been brought to trial. The mastermind and one of the perpetrators are still at large and the victim's family has not been compensated for this serious crime.

Sara Mendiola
Propuesta Cívica executive director

An event is being organised in Mexico City on 23 March to pay tribute to the brilliance of Breach’s work and her contribution to Mexican journalism. It will include an exhibition of her investigative reporting, while fellow journalists and representatives of international organisations will discuss her career.

Mexico is Latin America’s deadliest country for journalists. A total of 72 journalists have been murdered in the past decade and no one has been held to account in more than 90% of the cases.

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