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Reporter for major Mexican newspaper found slain

MEXICO CITY (AFP) – A regional correspondent for leading Mexican newspaper La Jornada was found slain on Saturday, shortly after he went missing in the western state of Nayarit, prosecutors said.

Luis Martin Sanchez Iniguez is one of three active or former journalists to have been abducted in the state in recent days, the prosecutors’ office said in a statement, adding to Mexico’s surging attacks on the press that are often linked to the country’s powerful drug cartels.

His body turned up in a village near the state capital Tepic “with signs of violence” and two cardboard messages pinned to his chest, the office added.

The statement did not indicate the content of the scrawled cardboard messages left on Sanchez’s body by his abductors, a common tactic used by organised crime in Mexico to sow terror.

On Friday, armed and hooded men also broke into the home of teacher Osiris Maldonado de la Paz, who had previously worked for digital media, in the town of Xalisco and he remains missing, prosecutors said.

PHOTO: FREEPIK

A third missing journalist was later found alive.

In all three cases, attacks were “related to their journalistic work”, prosecutors said.

Sanchez, 59, is the first active journalist to be killed in 2023 in Mexico, one of the most dangerous nations in the world for members of the news media.

Early indications suggest Sanchez was slain between 24 and 48 hours before his body was discovered in the village of El Ahuacate, prosecutors said.

His wife, Cecilia Lopez, told investigators she had been unaware of his whereabouts since Wednesday night, when she was in another town visiting relatives, La Jornada reported, citing local authorities.

At that time, Sanchez was at home and spoke to his wife by phone. Lopez also reportedly told investigators that she found the clothes her husband was wearing the last day she saw him in their home, and his wallet was complete except for his La Jornada correspondent’s card.

The family also reported that “his computer, mobile phone, a hard drive and his sandals are missing”, the newspaper added.

La Jornada, a leftist newspaper founded in 1985 in Mexico City, has already lost two of its most widely known correspondents: Miroslava Breach, killed in Chihuahua in March 2017, and Javier Valdez, who was also a contributor to AFP, murdered in Sinaloa in May of the same year.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based press freedom group, strongly condemned the killing of Sanchez and tweeted that it “calls on Mexican authorities to immediately and credibly investigate”. A statement by journalists in Nayarit and other Mexican states urged local and federal authorities “to exhaust all lines of investigation” and to provide protection to the families of the victims.

These disappearances “are violent actions that disrupt public peace and show the danger that we all run at any time”, it said.

Nayarit, on the Pacific coast, neighbours the states of Sinaloa to the northwest and Jalisco to the south, where the country’s two largest drug trafficking cartels operate.

Last May, Marco Aurelio Ramirez, a retired journalist and former official of the central Mexican state of Puebla, was shot and killed as he was leaving his home.

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