Mexican government has failed to protect journalists, watchdog group says

Moises Sanchez was determined to let nothing stop him in his pursuit of the truth.

He had limited formal education, so he read as much as he could. He had limited means, so he drove a taxi to support himself and his family while he personally distributed La Union, his free newspaper.

And he had limited protection, because lived in Mexico, where dozens of journalists have been killed for their work, so he adopted a valiant motto and printed it in the top right hand corner of every front page: “Living with fear is not an option.”

But on January 2, 2015, six armed men invaded Sanchez’s home in Medellin, outside Veracruz, abducted the 49-year-old editor and threw him into a car. His mutilated body was discovered outside the city three weeks later.

A powerful suspect was quickly identified: Medellin mayor Omar Cruz Reyes, the recent subject of critical coverage by Sanchez, who demanded the mayor take a tougher stance on organized crime. A former policeman turned drug trafficker who confessed to being involved in the murder told investigators that Sanchez had been kidnapped and murdered at Cruz’s behest, a charge Cruz later denied.

Despite testimony implicating Cruz, however, federal authorities were slow to take up the case, disputing the notion that his killing was a politically motivated attack on the press, and those delays allowed the mayor to escape before he could be stripped of immunity from prosecution. He disappeared and remains on the run.

The Sanchez case is one of three highlighted in a special report released by the Committee to Protect Journalists on Tuesday, charging that the Mexican federal government has failed to protect journalists like Sanchez amid a decade-long rise in kidnappings and murders of media members.

Mexico is among the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist, the watchdog group found, in part because “a lack of political will” to address the crisis effectively allows “criminal gangs, corrupt…

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