The Inter American Press Association has condemned the murder in Mexico of journalist Regina Martínez, and expressed concern at the disappearance in Colombia of a French correspondent and at an attack on a radio announcer in Brazil.
According to information obtained by the association’s Rapid Response Unit in Mexico, Ms. Martínez was the correspondent in Veracruz of the magazine Proceso for the past 10 years and was known for her balanced reporting of political matters, corruption, lack of safety and violence. She recently had been investigating alleged political corruption in the city of Veracruz, in the state of the same name.
Initial inquiries point to the fact that she had been beaten and then strangled Friday evening. Her body was found the following day in the bathtub at her home in Xalapa, the state capital, after a neighbor told police that that afternoon the door to Ms. Martínez’ house had been left open all day.
Ms. Martínez’ death raised indignation among journalists throughout the country and organizations in defense of press freedom and free speech, which called on the federal and state governments not to let the murder go unpunished, a plea which the Inter American Press Association has joined, said Gustavo Mohme, chairman of its Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information.
Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, added, “So long as we continue accumulating statistics concerning crimes against journalists in Mexico with none of them being solved, lack of punishment will reign.”
Ms. Martínez had also worked as a reporter for the local newspaper Diario de Xalapa and correspondent of the Veracruz paper La Jornada.
Since 2003 another seven journalists have been killed in Veracruz: Raúl Gibb Guerrero, Hugo Barragán Ortiz, Roberto Marcos García, Adolfo Sánchez Guzmán, Noel López Olguín, Yolanda Ordaz and Miguel Ángel López Velasco, along with his son and wife. Jesús Mejía Lechuga and Evaristo Ortega Zárate remain missing. None of the cases has been solved.
In Colombia the whereabouts remain unknown since Saturday of French journalist Roméo Langlois, correspondent of France 24 television. He was accompanying the Colombian Army in Caquetá province with the aim of making a documentary about the war on drug trafficking.
That day there was heavy fighting between soldiers and guerrillas belonging to the self-styled Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia. According to the army, Langlois was believed to have been injured, stripped of his equipment, bulletproof vest and protective helmet, to have declared himself to be a civilian and to have withdrawn from the combat zone. It is presumed that he was abducted by the rebels.
Later Tuesday a woman caller claiming to represent rebels said that the Frenchman had been captured and was being held as a prisoner of war.
In another development, the journalism advocacy association expressed concern at an attack carried out in Brazil. Early Saturday morning unidentified assailants shot at the home of radio reporter Vinicius Henriques in the town of João Pessoa, capital of Paraíba state. There were no reports of injuries during the attack.
Henriques is host of the newscast “Rota da Noticia” aired by Rádio Arapuan FM, in which he covers the police beat.
Editor’s Note: The parent corporation of A.M. Costa Rica is a member of the Inter American Press Association.