Carlos Ortega Samper

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Top Developments
• Amid threats and attacks, self-censorship becomes more pervasive.
• Congress stalls on reforms to combat violence against the press.

Key Statistic
9: Journalists missing since 2005. Most had covered crime and corruption.


The deepening influence of organized crime and the government’s inability to curb worsening violence left the news media wide open to attack. In the last 10 years alone, CPJ research shows, 32 editors and reporters have been killed, at least 11 in direct reprisal for their work. Nine more journalists have disappeared since 2005. Most of those targeted had covered organized crime, drug trafficking, or government corruption—topics that journalists say they increasingly avoid in fear of reprisal. Reforms that would impose special penalties for attacks on the press and give the federal government broad authority to prosecute crimes against free expression were stalled in Congress.

New York, November 3, 2009—Crime reporter Bladimir Antuna García was found murdered Monday night, according local news reports, after reportedly being abducted from a street in the Mexican city of Durango that morning. The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Mexican authorities to show their commitment to press freedom and the protection of Mexican journalists by immediately bringing all those responsible to justice.

Santa María El Oro Mayor Martín Silvestre Herrera denied any connection to Sunday's murder of local journalist Carlos Ortega Samper in the northern Durango state, according to Mexican press reports. 

New York, May 5, 2009--A Mexican journalist who was critical of local authorities in the northern state of Durango was fatally shot by unidentified assailants on Sunday. In a piece published a day before the killing, the reporter wrote that he had been threatened by local government officials. The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on local and federal authorities to thoroughly and expeditiously investigate the crime.

Two pickup trucks intercepted Ortega, a reporter for the daily El Tiempo de Durango, as he was driving home in the town of Santa María El Oro in the northern state of Durango, colleagues told CPJ.

Four unidentified individuals got off the trucks and pulled the reporter from his car, El Tiempo de Durango journalists said. As he resisted, the assailants shot him three times in the head with a .40-caliber pistol, according to news reports and CPJ interviews. Ortega, 52, died at the scene.

In an April 2 article, the journalist had alleged that Mayor Martín Silvestre Herrera and Juan Manuel Calderón Guzmán, the local representative for federal programs, had threatened him in connection with his recent reporting on the conditions of a local slaughterhouse. In the same story, Ortega wrote that he was investigating allegations of corruption involving a local police officer, Salvador Flores Triana. In a subsequent story, his last, journalist said that the three men should be held responsible if anything were to happen to him or his family.

Ortega had worked as the Santa María El Oro correspondent for El Tiempo de Durango for less than a year. His editor, Saúl García, told CPJ that he believed Ortega had been killed in retaliation for his reporting on local government corruption. Authorities did not disclose a possible motive.

Silvestre told CPJ that he had no involvement in the murder. While acknowledging having had disagreements with Ortega, the mayor said he had never threatened him. CPJ phone calls to the other two officials went unanswered in 2009. Phone messages left for Calderón in May 2010 were not returned. Flores could not be located for comment in May 2010.

No suspects had been detained as of June 2010.

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