Veteran journalist Miroslava Breach Velducea was repeatedly shot in the head outside her home in Chihuahua on 23 March 2017. Breach Velducea, aged 54, was a well-known journalist whose twenty-year career focused on reporting on political and social issues, often covering corruption. Her most recent work exposed connections between local politicians and drug cartels. She worked as a correspondent for the national paper La Jornada, and contributed to several other news outlets. Shortly before her murder, Breach had headed a corruption investigation. The federal Special Prosecutor for Attention to Crimes against Freedom of Expression (Fiscalía Especial para la Libertad de Expresión – FEADLE) launched an investigation into her murder.
In December 2017, the federal police arrested an associate of Los Salazares – a criminal organisation affiliated with the Sinaloa Cartel – who they have indicted as the mastermind (intellectual author) of the crime. The authorities are seeking a 70-year prison sentence. An individual thought to be one of the perpetrators (material authors) of the crime was reportedly found dead in Sonora state in December 2017. Other individuals suspected of involvement in her murder remain at large.
The federal authorities are reported to have made it plain in the indictment that Breach Velducea was killed as a direct reprisal for her work as a journalist. Evidence points to a report published in 2016 in which Breach Velducea indicated that the two major political parties had put forward candidates with connections to organised crime for mayoral positions in several municipalities. One such candidate, she reported, was the nephew of the leader of Los Salazares. The revelation reportedly led to the withdrawal of his candidacy.
Mexico continues to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist, with at least 96 writers and print journalists killed since 2004, while another 11 have disappeared. To date in 2018, at least six print journalists have been killed in various states across the Republic. Few of these crimes have ever been satisfactorily resolved, despite the existence of the FEADLE. Where cases have led to prosecution, few bring to justice the masterminds of the attacks. Impunity for such crimes perpetuates a vicious cycle of violence. Writers and journalists continue to face great risk – be they death threats, attacks, or legal prosecution – in order to exercise their right to freedom of expression. In the last year, the economic resources dedicated to the federal protection mechanism for human rights defenders and journalists (Mecanismo de Protección para Personas Defensoras de Derechos Humanos y Periodistas) have been reduced, and there are concerns that it will have no funds at all between October 2018 and April 2019 leaving hundreds of journalists and human rights defenders unprotected.
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WRITE TO THE AUTHORITIES
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Please send appeals to the Mexican authorities:
• Welcoming progress made thus far in the investigation of the killing of journalist Miroslava Breach Velducea, but calling on the authorities to bring all those responsible for the crime to justice – both perpetrators and masterminds;
• Calling upon the authorities to bring an end to the climate of impunity for crimes against writers and journalists, including the killings of at least 96 writers and print journalists since 2004;
• Urging that they ensure that all cases of killings, attacks and threats against writers and journalists are investigated promptly, thoroughly and impartially, ensuring that both the masterminds and perpetrators are brought to justice;
• Highlighting the importance of the Federal Protection Mechanism and it having the financial, human and technical resources necessary to fulfil its mission.
Please send appeals to:
Lic. Enrique Peña Nieto
Presidente de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos
Residencia Oficial de los Pinos Casa Miguel Alemán
Col. San Miguel Chapultepec, C.P. 11850, DISTRITO FEDERAL, México
Fax: (+ 52 55) 5093 4901/ 5277 2376
Messages can also be sent via the Presidency’s website: http://www.presidencia.gob.mx/contacto/
Salutation: Señor Presidente/ Dear Mr President
Minister of the Interior
Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong Secretaría de Gobernación Bucareli 99, Col. Juárez, Del. Cuauhtémoc, C.P. 06600 Ciudad de México, México Twitter: @osoriochong
Salutation: Dear Minister / Sr. Secretario