UPDATE 25/12

MEXICO: Journalist found dead 24 hours after being reported missing.

The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International is appalled by the news that another Mexican journalist has been found dead in suspicious circumstances. René Orta Salgado, a former reporter for El Sol de Cuernavaca, was found dead in the trunk of his car on May 13, 2012. A scarf had been taped over his face using industrial adhesive tape. The WiPC calls on the Mexican authorities to carry out a thorough investigation into Orta’s death, and to bring those responsible to justice.

René Orta Salgado, 43, was a political activist and journalist with 20 years’ experience. He was reported missing by his family on May 12, 2012; his body was discovered in Cuernavaca, Morelos State, 24 hours later.

Early reports say that Orta’s body showed no signs of gun shot wounds and that the exact cause of his death has yet to be declared. According to the Mexican authorities, Orta had not received any death threats previously. The Morelos State Attorney’s Office will be carrying out the investigation into his death.

Orta was a vocal supporter of PRI (the Institutional Revolutionary Party). In December 2011 he set up Emprendedores Por la Nación (EPN), a political group supporting Enrique Peña Nieto, the PRI candidate in the upcoming presidential elections.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to practise journalism. Since December 2011, at least 42 print journalists and writers have been killed. Five have been murdered in the last 6 weeks. The vast majority of these crimes are investigated at state level. They are rarely investigated thoroughly and there have been very few convictions.

In March 2012, the Mexican Senate passed an amendment that would make all attacks on journalists federal crimes. This represented a crucial step towards tackling the problem of impunity in Mexico, as the federal authorities are considered less susceptible to the corruption that plagues local authorities in individual states.

The amendment needs to be ratified by 17 states for it to become law. Morelos, the state in which Orta was found dead, is one of ten states which have already ratified the amendment.


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