A street vendor in Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca. A journalist survived a gun attack in Salina Cruz, a town in the Mexican state. (AFP/Rodrigo Arangua)
A street vendor in Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca. A journalist survived a gun attack in Salina Cruz, a town in the Mexican state. (AFP/Rodrigo Arangua)

Journalist Hiram Moreno survives gun attack in Oaxaca, Mexico

Mexico City, March 22, 2019 — Authorities must immediately investigate an attack on Mexican journalist Hiram Moreno and guarantee his safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Moreno, the editor of news website Evidencias, survived a shooting in Salina Cruz, a town in Oaxaca state, on March 20, according to news reports and an account that Moreno gave to reporters.

An unidentified man shot Moreno in the back and the arm as the journalist left a convenience store at about 4 p.m., according to a report on his website. The attacker fled on a motorcycle and Moreno managed to call for help. He was rushed to a hospital, where he was treated for his injuries, according to the report.

Aarón Mastache, the head of the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, which operates under the auspices of the federal Interior Secretariat, told CPJ on March 20 that the journalist has been enrolled in a federal protection program since 2013. He declined to provide further details on the nature of the measures, citing privacy and safety concerns.

“The attack on Hiram Moreno while he was under protective measures underscores the urgent need for the Mexican federal government to ramp up its efforts to protect journalists in extreme risk,” said CPJ Mexico Representative Jan-Albert Hootsen. “Oaxaca state authorities must do everything in their power to bring the attacker to justice.”

The journalist gave an account of his attack to a local broadcaster after leaving the hospital. “I went to buy water at an Oxxo store in the La Petrolera neighborhood. Suddenly, I saw a person on a motorcycle. He stepped down from the motorcycle and I saw that he lifted his shirt and grabbed a gun,” Moreno said. “I immediately knew that it wasn’t a robbery. He didn’t say anything, he just started shooting.”

As of March 22, CPJ had not been able to obtain contact information for Moreno.

Moreno is the founder and editor of Evidencias, which covers general news, crime, security, and politics in Tehuantepec Isthmus, a region in the southeastern limits of Oaxaca state. Moreno also reports for the site. In a March 5 story, he reported on allegations that members of the State Investigation Agency tortured three teenagers detained in a State Attorney General’s Office building, one of whom later died.

CPJ made several calls to a spokesperson for the state attorney general’s office on March 20 and 21, which went unanswered. The office released a statement on March 20 condemning the attack and saying that it had opened an investigation. Oaxaca governor Alejandro Murat condemned the attack on Twitter that same day. Several calls from CPJ to the State Investigation Agency were not immediately answered.

Mexico is the deadliest country for journalists in the western hemisphere, according to CPJ research. Last year, a least four were murdered there in direct retaliation for their work.