On May 2, 2019, Telésforo Enríquez’s body was found in his car in the town of San Agustín Loxicha, in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, according to a statement by the state attorney general’s office released on May 3. The statement said the journalist’s body had been found with several gunshot wounds and that Enríquez had died on the spot.
Enríquez was the founder and director of El Cafetal, a community radio station based in San Agustín Loxicha, according to news reports. He was also a member the local chapter of the National Coordinator for Education Workers teachers’ union and had run several unsuccessful campaigns for mayor, according to those reports and Omar Gazga, a reporter based in Oaxaca who knew Enríquez, who spoke with CPJ.
Enríquez founded El Cafetal approximately five years ago, Gazga said. According to Gazga and news reports, the editorial content of El Cafetal focused mostly on the Zapotec culture and language, which is dominant in the region. CPJ was unable to retrieve any recent content from the radio station, which does not appear to have a presence online.
Earlier this year, Enríquez told colleagues that he had received death threats, Gazga told CPJ. Enríquez alleged that the threats were from the brother of San Agustín Loxicha Mayor Pedro Vázquez, according to Gazga.
CPJ made several phone calls to Mayor Vázquez, but did not receive a response, and CPJ was unable to find contact information for the mayor’s brother.
A spokesperson for the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, which provides journalists in situations of risk with protective measures, told CPJ that Enríquez had not reported any threats and was not incorporated in any federally sanctioned protection program. The spokesperson asked to remain anonymous to be able to speak of the matter.
The Oaxaca state attorney general’s statement did not provide any further information on the number, identity, or motive of the attackers. Alejandro Peña, who heads the office of the state attorney general in the region where San Agustín Loxicha is located, declined to provide further information to CPJ over a messaging app and referred inquiries to the main office in the state capital, Oaxaca de Juárez. Several calls by CPJ to that office went unanswered.
Ricardo Sánchez Pérez del Pozo, who heads the office of the Federal Special Prosecutor for Attention to Crimes Committed against Freedom of Expression, in Mexico City, told CPJ that his office had not opened a separate federal investigation into the case, but that he had been in communication with Oaxaca state authorities about the killing and that his office "will provide assistance when requested.”