Mexican police reporter missing in Veracruz

New York, September 29, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by reports that Mexican journalist Manuel Gabriel Fonseca Hernández has gone missing from the city of Acayucán, in Veracruz state. Fonseca’s friends first reported him missing on September 20, police records show.

Fonseca, 18, covers the police beat for the daily El Mañanero. Federal authorities say the local police in this region are widely controlled by organized crime groups, news reports said. Many journalists tailor their reporting so as to not offend crime bosses or political allies, local journalists told CPJ.

“We call on Mexican authorities to find Manuel Gabriel Fonseca Hernández and bring him to safety,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior coordinator for the Americas. “Mexican authorities must ensure that journalists can work without fear of reprisal.”

Journalists said they have not been able to reach Fonseca on his cell phone, the local press reported. One journalist told the police that she received a garbled text message from Fonseca’s number, but was not able to reach him when she tried calling.

Sources told CPJ that Fonseca’s disappearance is deepening the fear in a state where four journalists have already been killed so far this year. Many journalists have fled or gone into hiding, CPJ research shows. Drug-related violence now makes Mexico one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the press, according to CPJ research.