New York, June 10, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Mexican authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the abduction of news editor Marco Antonio López Ortiz, who appears to have been kidnapped on Tuesday in Acapulco, Guerrero state.
The daily newspaper Novedades Acapulco reported on Thursday that López, 42, had been abducted by a group of men late Tuesday night. López’s supervisor, Armando Robles, told CPJ that when López did not arrive at the paper Wednesday morning a group of reporters began to retrace his movements. López left work at 10:30 p.m. the night before and then went to visit his godfather at his home, leaving the house at about 11:30 p.m., Robles said.
Witnesses told Robles that a group of men assaulted López as he crossed a street. People gathered at a corner taco stand said they thought they were witnessing a robbery, “but the men took him away. We don’t know why.” Robles said.
Among other responsibilities, López oversees the paper’s coverage of crime. Journalists in Acapulco told CPJ that they are under constant threat by organized crime groups to keep coverage to a minimum.
“We are very worried about Marco Antonio López Ortiz,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ senior program coordinator for the Americas. “We call on state and federal authorities to do all in their power to locate López and bring him to safety.”
Robles said the paper’s crime stories are cautious and limited, in hopes of not angering crime cartels that are fighting for control of Acapulco. Crime stories are kept short, he said, with bare details and almost always only what the police release officially. “We don’t investigate,” Robles said.
Reporters in areas of Mexico where organized crime has a hold have told CPJ they don’t want their stories to reflect that they have been asking questions of witnesses, or getting background information from police. Publishing that material could easily make them targets. Aurora Harrison, the police reporter for the Acapulco newspaper El Sur, said: “No one covers anything but the simplest details. Go beyond that and it’s dangerous.” Harrison’s paper was attacked by gunmen who shot up the outside of the offices and then threatened 12 workers last November, according to CPJ research.
CPJ research shows that 10 journalists, including López, have gone missing since 2005 in Mexico while doing their work.