Reporters Without Borders voiced deep shock today at a attack by two gunmen on the headquarters of the El Mañana daily in Nuevo Laredo (in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas) on 6 February in which crime reporter Jaime Orozco Tey was shot five times, in the chest and spine, and is now in a serious condition.
“The care that El Mañana took in its coverage of a region in the grip of violence and drug cartels was not enough to prevent it from being the target of this new attempt to silence the press,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“Fourteen journalists have been killed in Mexico since the start of President Vicente Fox’s term, half of them in Tamaulipas,” the press freedom organisation noted. “We welcome the fact that the federal authorities are conducting the required investigation, as they have undertaken to do in the case of all attacks on the media. And we express our hopes for Orozco’s recovery.”
The attack was carried out by two men armed with AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles, who burst into the offices of El Mañana at night, fired off about 30 rounds in the newsroom and threw a grenade. Several employees were hurt by flying glass. Orozco was shot as he tried to flee. He has undergone an operation and has had several transfusions since being rushed to hospital.
The attack bears the hallmark of an operation carried out by hitmen on behalf of drug traffickers, who are especially active in this part of Mexico. Following the still-unsolved murder of its editor, Roberto Javier Mora García, on 19 March 2004, the newspaper decided to restrict its coverage of drug trafficking and local government corruption.
During a visit it made to Mexico’s northern states in May 2005, Reporters Without Borders was told by El Mañana managing editor Ramon Ramon Dario Cantú Deandar : “All of our journalists who cover sensitive subjects, especially drug trafficking, have been the target of threats and violence. So now we only publish information provided by the authorities.”
Several other Nuevo Laredo news media follow the same practice, including radio Stereo 91 XHNOE, whose crime reporter, Dolores Guadalupe García Escamilla, was killed on 5 April 2005. Cantú Deandar said at a news conference yesterday that El Mañana will no longer do any investigative reporting on drug trafficking.