Mexico City, August 4, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the attack on Saturday on community radio station director Indalecio Benítez that resulted in the death of his 12-year-old son.
“This tragic killing underscores how the cycle of impunity in violence against journalists perpetuates even more unspeakable violence,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon from New York. “Mexican authorities must immediately investigate this crime and all possible motives–including journalism–and ensure the safety of Benítez and his family.”
Benítez is the founder of community radio station Calentana 98.1 FM in the city of Luvianos in Mexico State and is a prominent local figure, according to news reports. Early Saturday morning he was returning with his family to his home, which also serves as the radio station, when he saw a group of armed men waiting outside. He turned his car around but the unidentified men opened fire on the vehicle, killing his son Juan Diego Benítez, according to news reports. Benítez said that after he fled, the assailants shot at the façade of the building and entered his home, threatening other family members who were inside, before fleeing, according to news reports.
Marycarmen Aguilar Franco, a reporter and co-founder of Calentana, told CPJ the station–which is less than a year old and also broadcasts online for former Luvianos residents living in the United States–has carried out little journalism of its own. “Due to the security situation, we can’t do it,” Aguilar said. The station does simulcast prominent Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui’s morning program, Aguilar told CPJ.
Calentana serves an area in the southeastern corner of Mexico State, some 200 kilometers southeast of Mexico City and near the border of Michoacán state, where the La Familia and Los Guerreros Unidos cartels are fighting for turf. “It is the most conflict-ridden place there is,” Aguilar told CPJ. She said the station received indirect threats, but nothing that caused grave concern. “There aren’t threats as such, but there are ‘recommendations,'” Aguilar told CPJ.
Benítez said on Calentana 98.1 after the crime that he didn’t know the motive for the attack but suggested the radio station’s prominence might have made it a target for the warring cartels. “Maybe they wanted to plant terror with something very visible, I don’t know… I have never received threats. I think there is a fierce dispute going on for control of this city and the market and those who are paying the price are the peaceful people who are here.”
Mexico State investigators have not issued any statements on its investigation so far. CPJ’s attempts to reach a spokesperson were unsuccessful.
Drug-related violence makes Mexico one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the press, according to CPJ research. Mexican columnist and government spokesman Jorge Torres Palacios was abducted and murdered in Guerrero state in June.