Journalists in Acapulco, in the state of Guerrero, protest on November 29 following attacks on their colleagues. (Photo: AFP/Francisco Robles)

In 10 days, 8 Mexican journalists abducted or shot at in 4 separate incidents

Mexico City, December 4, 2023 – The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by a spate of violent abductions and attacks on eight journalists in Mexico and calls on authorities to immediately, credibly, and transparently investigate whether the attacks were related to the reporters’ work and bring the culprits to justice.

On November 22, Silvia Arce and Alberto Sánchez, a married couple who founded the news website RedSiete, were abducted by unknown assailants in Taxco, a town in the central state of Guerrero, some 110 miles (177 kilometers) south of the capital Mexico City, according to news reports.

Three days prior, on November 19, journalist Marco Antonio Toledo was kidnapped, together with his wife and son, when unknown armed men forced themselves into his home, according to news reports and a statement by the Guerrero state prosecutor’s office. Their abduction was reported on November 22. Toledo is editorial director of news website Semanario Espectador de Taxco and a correspondent for privately owned broadcaster N3 Guerrero and news website La Crónica Vespertino de Chilpancingo.

All three journalists regularly report on crime, security and politics.

Arce and Sánchez were released on November 25, followed by Toledo and his wife on November 26, and Toledo’s son on November 28, according to news reports.

Also on November 28, four journalists—Óscar Guerrero, a photographer for news website En Primer Plano; Víctor Mateo, a reporter for news website Ahora Guerrero; Jesús de la Cruz of online news agency El Jaguar, and a fourth victim who asked to remain anonymous out of fear for his safety—were traveling in a car after covering the murder of a bus driver when they were shot at by unidentified gunmen in a car and on a motorcycle in Chilpancingo, Guerrero’s state capital, according to news reports and a statement by Guerrero’s state prosecutor’s office.

Two of the reporters were in a stable but “delicate” condition in a hospital, the two other reporters, who asked to remain anonymous, citing safety fears, told CPJ. All four journalists regularly report on local crime and security, which exposes them to attacks by gangs, they said.

Guerrero is one of Mexico’s most violent states due to turf wars between criminal groups, according to the Wilson Center, a Washington D.C.-based think tank.

On November 29, Maynor Ramón Ramírez, or “El May,” who regularly reports on crime for newspaper Diario ABC Michoacán, was shot by unknown attackers while at his family’s carpet cleaning business in the city of Apatzingán in the drug cartel-dominated neighboring state of Michoacán, according to news reports. Ramírez and another person, who was not identified, were taken to a hospital for treatment, those sources said.

In 2016, Ramírez was shot in the stomach, according to news reports.

“The series of attacks on journalists in Guerrero and Michoacán are shocking, even in a country accustomed to violence against the press, and underscore the Mexican government’s failure to adequately protect the press,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ’s Mexico representative. “CPJ calls on Mexican authorities to immediately investigate these attacks and bring the culprits to justice, lest these crimes linger in impunity as so many others have before them.”

A spokesperson for the Guerrero state prosecutor’s office, which said in its statements that it was investigating the attacks, did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment via messaging app.

CPJ was unable to find contact information for Ramírez’s family. ABC Michoacán did not reply to a request for comment. CPJ’s phone calls to the Michoacán state prosecutor’s office, which also said in a statement that it was investigating the attack on Ramírez, were not answered.

Tobyanne Ledesma, head of the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, told CPJ that her agency had not had prior contact with the reporters in Guerrero and Michoacán, and it was reaching out to them to offer protection under a federal program run by the federal Interior Ministry.

Mexico is the most dangerous country in the Western Hemisphere for journalists. In 2022, 13 journalists were killed in Mexico, the highest number CPJ has ever documented in that country in a single year. At least three of those journalists were murdered in direct retaliation for their reporting on crime and political corruption, while CPJ is investigating the motive behind the 10 other killings.

Editor’s note: The headline has been updated to correct the number of days over which the incidents took place.