Mexican journalist Susana Carreño was severely wounded a knife attack on July 1, 2022. (Photo: Radio UDG)

Mexican journalist Susana Carreño severely wounded in Puerto Vallarta knife attack

Mexico City, July 6, 2022 – Mexican authorities should immediately and transparently investigate the stabbing of journalist Susana Carreño, determine the motive of the attack, and take appropriate steps to guarantee her safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.

On July 1, near the coastal resort city of Puerto Vallarta, in the central Mexican state of Jalisco, unidentified drivers in a gray Jeep Grand Cherokee crashed into Carreño’s vehicle; two men then approached the scene on a motorcycle, forced Carreño at gunpoint to lay down, and stabbed her repeatedly, according to news reports.

Carreño, a reporter for Radio UDG, a broadcaster affiliated with the University of Guadalajara, underwent emergency surgery for injuries to her chest and neck, and was in stable condition as of Wednesday but was not allowed to speak due to her injuries, Radio UDG director Gabriel Torres told CPJ by phone.

“The shocking and brutal attack on Susana Carreño, less than a week after journalist Antonio de la Cruz and his daughter were killed in Tamaulipas, once again shows the Mexican authorities’ utter failure to protect the country’s press,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ’s Mexico representative. “Authorities must protect Carreño and her colleagues by all means necessary, immediately find the culprits of this shameless violence, and determine whether Carreño was attacked for her work.”

Carreño and her co-worker had just entered their vehicle when the attack began, according to Torres and a news report by UGTV, Radio UDG’s television affiliate, which said that the initial car crash was seemingly deliberate.

The attackers used Carreño’s vehicle to escape the crime scene, and the car was found about 10 miles from the scene of the attack, that report said.

Torres said the attack took place minutes after Carreño and her co-worker, whose identity he asked CPJ to keep private for safety concerns, finished a live broadcast of Carreño’s news show “All Voices Count” at Ejido Vallarta, a stretch of communal land near Puerto Vallarta. Carreño has worked for Radio UDG for years, and recently reported on alleged corruption and illegal construction work in the area, Torres said.

Hours after the attack, Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro wrote on Twitter describing it as a robbery.

Torres, however, said that while the attackers did steal the journalist and her coworker’s phones and car, “they went straight for [Carreño]; this did not look like a robbery at all.”

According to that UGTV report, Jalisco state authorities later announced that they were investigating whether the attack was related to Carreño’s work, but had not commented publicly on the possible motive or the identity of the attackers.

Torres told CPJ that Carreño had not mentioned receiving any recent threats to her life.

An official with the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, which provides journalists with protective measures under the auspices of the Federal Interior Ministry, told CPJ that the office was not aware of any recent threats against Carreño or her colleagues at Radio UDG. He added that the mechanism had contacted Carreño in the wake of the attack and was incorporating her into a protection program. That official asked CPJ to remain anonymous, as he was not authorized to speak publicly.

CPJ repeatedly called the Jalisco state prosecutor’s office for comment, but no one answered.

Mexico is the deadliest country for journalists in the Western Hemisphere. According to CPJ research, at least three journalists have been murdered in direct relation to their work in 2022. CPJ is investigating another eight killings to determine the motive.