The Inter American Press Association expressed Wednesday to the Mexican government its serious concerns regarding the lack of resolution of an attack 14 years ago on journalist Jesús Blancornelas.
Friday the press organization said it became aware of a ruling by the sixth district criminal court of Mexico State exonerating Marco Antonio Quiñones of the Nov. 27, 1997 attack in which Blancornelas was injured and his bodyguard, Luis Valero, was killed.
Quiñones was identified by the Mexican attorney general’s office as one of the hitmen working for the Arellano Félix brothers’ drug cartel (known as the Tijuana Cartel) and a member of the Mexican mafia who was hired to kill Blancornelas, editor of the weekly Zeta.
Quiñones, who is currently serving a 12-year and nine-month prison sentence on an organized crime charge as a member of the Tijuana Cartel, is due to be released in October 2016. The authorities identified 10 hitmen as having participated in Blancornelas’ attack, alleging the leaders of the cartel group are the masterminds.
Zeta has been one of the Mexican media outlets to suffer the most direct attacks in recent years. They have received the support of the Inter American Press Association, which has documented and denounced these attacks to the Mexican government and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The Inter American Press Association has also denounced the cases of Héctor Félix Miranda, murdered in 1988, and Francisco Ortiz Franco, murdered in 2004, both Zeta executives and journalists.
All these attacks continue to go unpunished.
The chairman of the association’s Impunity Committee, Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz, lamented that a federal judge has not found sufficient evidence to sentence even the perpetrator identified by the Mexican Attorney general’s office in 2004.
Ealy Ortiz, president of the Mexican newspaper El Universal, added that “for the IAPA this is proof that the government has not carried out its duty to prevent this case, and many others, from going unpunished.”
In this regard, the Inter American Press Association called on the attorney general’s office to review the case and take the necessary legal steps to charge and convict those involved. The organization also declared that the government should comply with a resolution from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding the Félix Miranda case, in which the authorities are called upon to investigate and determine who is the mastermind behind the attack.
In the attack on Blancornelas the attorney general’s office cited and identified in the case file Benjamín Arellano Félix and Ramón Arellano Félix as the masterminds. Ramón has since died.
The association identified three interesting facts regarding Zeta:
Francisco Ortiz Franco, the Zeta publisher and lawyer, collaborated with the association in the review of the Félix Miranda case file, where the rights court acted as intermediary. Shortly afterwards, on June 22, 2004, Ortiz Franco was gunned down by unidentified assailants who shot him with AK-47 sub-machine guns in front of his 8- and 10-year-old children.
In 2002 the Inter American Press Association awarded Jesús Blancornelas its Press Freedom Grand Prize. He died on Nov. 23, 2006, from illness.
In November 2009 the Inter American Press Association produced and distributed El Crujir de las Palabras (“The Crunching of Words”), a documentary that thoroughly analyzes Ortiz Franco’s murder, exhibits the inconsistencies with the investigation carried out by the authorities, and their lack of interest in prosecuting those responsible. It also displays the multiple attacks on journalists that remain unpunished in Mexico.