Indigenous journalists ambushed and shot in Oaxaca

[Reporters Without Borders statement]

Reporters Without Borders is deeply shocked by the fatal shooting on 7 April in Putla de Guerrero, in the southern state of Oaxaca, of Teresa Bautista Flores, 24, and Felicitas Martínez, 20, two women journalists working for La Voz que Rompe el Silencio (“The Voice that Breaks the Silence”), a community radio station serving the Trique indigenous community.

“Although there is so far no evidence that these two women were killed because of their work as journalists, their murders will be traumatic for all of Latin America’s many community radio stations, which are too often ignored or despised by the rest of the media and by governments,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“We are conscious of the risks run by the press in Oaxaca state, where the political climate continues to be tense, where two journalists were killed in 2006 at the height of a period of social unrest, and where other community media have been attacked,” the press freedom organisation continued. “We hope the investigators quickly establish the circumstances and motives for this double murder and catch those responsible. And we join their community in paying tribute to the two victims.”

La Voz que Rompe el Silencio was launched by the Trique indigenous community in San Juan Copala (in the west of Oaxaca state) on 20 January, a year after the locality was granted administrative autonomy. The community appointed Bautista Flores and Martínez to manage and present the radio station, which is dedicated to promoting indigenous culture.

The two young women were returning from doing a report in the municipality of Llano Juárez in the early afternoon when they were ambushed and, after being threatened with abduction, were finally shot with 7.62 calibre bullets of the kind used in AK-47 assault rifles, Reporters Without Borders was told by CACTUS, an organisation that supports indigenous communities. Investigators found 20 bullet casings at the scene. Three other people were wounded in the shooting - Jaciel Vázquez, aged 3, and his parents.

“We are convinced the Oaxaca government was behind all this, with the intention of dismantling municipal autonomy,” a community spokesman told CACTUS, which has called on the federal authorities to intervene.

The Mexican branch of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) said there have been acts of violence against other small radio stations belonging to indigenous groups in Oaxaca, such as Radio Nandia in 2006 and Radio Calenda in 2007.

Two journalists were murdered in Oaxaca during a major wave of protests against state governor Ulíses Ruiz Ortíz in 2006. They were independent Indymedia cameraman Bradley Will, shot on 27 October 2006, and Raúl Marcial Pérez, a indigenous community leader and columnist for the regional daily El Gráfico, who was shot on 8 December 2006.

No one was brought to justice for either of these murders, in which the authorities curiously ruled out any possibility of their being linked to the victims’ work as journalists.

article originally published at http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=26511.

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