Mexican journalists rescued in Oaxaca; one wounded

New York, April 30, 2010—Two journalists who went missing Tuesday after an ambush in Oaxaca state in southern Mexico were rescued late Thursday by local police, according to news accounts. The Committee to Protect Journalists called today on Mexican authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the attack.

Érika Ramírez and David Cilia, reporters with the national newsweekly Contralínea, were found Thursday night in a forest near the Hierba Santa River, the news agency EFE reported. The journalists were taken to a local hospital in Santiago Juxtlahuaca by police helicopter, the Mexican press said.

Nancy Flores, Contralínea communications coordinator, told CPJ that Cilia suffered two gunshot wounds to his left leg and one to a hip. Ramírez was unhurt. Both reporters were diagnosed with dehydration, Flores said.

The journalists were accompanying a rights activists’ caravan that carried supplies and international observers to an area that has declared itself autonomous from the state government, the local press said. The convoy came under gunfire on Tuesday near the Triqui Indian mountain zone of San Juan Copala, Oaxaca, and two people were killed, press reports said.

Ramírez and Cilia found refuge in the forest after the attack, EFE reported. Mexican newspapers identified the slain activists as Beatriz Alberta Cariño Trujillo, a Mexican citizen, and Jyri Jaakola of Finland.

“We’re very relieved that Érika Ramírez and David Cilia were found alive, and we wish Cilia all the best in his recovery,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s Americas senior program coordinator. “Local and federal authorities must thoroughly investigate this attack and send a clear message that this brutal action will not go unpunished.”

The Contralínea reporters were traveling to the area to look into the murders of Felicitas Martínez Sánchez and Teresa Bautista Merino, two Triqui reporters with community radio station “La Voz que Rompe el Silencio” (The voice that breaks the silence), killed in San Juan Copala on April 7, 2008. No one has been brought to justice for their murders.