Two newspaper employees missing in Mexico

New York, November 16, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned by reports that two newspaper employees in Mexico have been missing since Monday and that in their last communication, the men said they were being followed by police cars.

Osvaldo García Íñiguez, a regional circulation manager for the daily business newspaper El Financiero, along with his driver, José de Jesús Ortiz Parra, disappeared from the central Mexican state of Zacatecas on Monday, according to news reports. The next day, Rogelio Cardenas, deputy editor of the paper, reported on Twitter that in the men’s last communication, they said they were being followed by two police cars and included the patrol car numbers.

El Financiero reported yesterday that the men were driving in a vehicle that clearly bore the newspaper’s logo and were on their way to the city of Guadalajara in Jalisco state. Weekly magazine Proceso reported that an unnamed source close to the Zacatecas state prosecutor’s office identified the police cars as belonging to federal police forces based in the state.

“We call on the Mexican federal authorities to find Osvaldo García Íñiguez and José de Jesús Ortiz Parra and bring them to safety,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior coordinator for the Americas. “The Attorney General’s Office must ensure that all leads are investigated, including reports that implicate the police, and that the responsible parties are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

Zacatecas state authorities said in a statement that state and federal police were carrying out a joint search for the two men and their vehicle, but did not mention the reports of police cars allegedly following the men. Neither the newspaper’s management nor state officials have commented on possible motives for the disappearance.

El Financiero wrote that it was stopping circulation of the newspaper in the state of Zacatecas “until corresponding authorities guarantee security on state highways.” Until then, the daily said it would only be available online.

Two Mexican journalists have been reported missing this year. Marco Antonio López Ortiz, the news editor for Novedades Acapulco, went missing on June 7. Witnesses said they saw men assault and abduct him as he crossed a street. Manuel Gabriel Fonseca Hernández disappeared on September 17 and was last seen leaving his house to cover a story for daily El Mañanero, for which he covered the crime beat. Drug-related violence now makes Mexico one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the press, CPJ research shows.