Mexico: Missing journalist in Veracruz allegedly threatened by mayor

Moisés Sánchez Cerezo, a journalist from Medellín de Bravo, Veracruz, was reported missing after armed men entered his home at 7 pm on Friday 2 January. According to witnesses, the men also took the his computer, camera and mobile phone.

Sánchez Cerezo is the director and editor of Medellín de Bravo’s “La Unión” newspaper, which has been critical of the problems in the town.

In recent weeks, Sánchez Cerezo had been reporting on the violence occurring in the area. On 13 December, he posted on his Facebook account that just days before the publication of mayor Omar Cruz Reyes’ activity report, a businessman was attacked and killed in El Tejar, a district of Medellín de Bravo. He also reported on a shootout in that same district, in which a father and son were injured. This is happening, he said, while the “Mayor of Medellín [de Bravo, is] protected by a unit of the Mexican Navy”.

This insecurity besetting the town prompted the journalist and a group of residents from his neighbourhood, in El Tejar, to form the “Gutiérrez Rosas Community Self-Defence Committee” on Wednesday 17 December and discuss future protest actions in the town.

On 27 December, a day after the report on the work of mayor Cruz Reyes was released, the journalist quoted on his Facebook page press reports from various media outlets in Veracruz regarding the appearance of “two lifeless bodies, wrapped in bags, on the day of the presentation of the mayor of Medillín [de Bravo’s] report”.

Information provided anonymously to ARTICLE 19 reveals that Sánchez Cerezo’s journalism and activism had angered the mayor of Medellín de Bravo, as “three days before the disappearance of the journalist, he heard from a reliable source that mayor Omar Cruz Reyes intended to silence him by teaching him a lesson”.

ARTICLE 19 demands that the Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists of the Secretariat of the Interior guarantee the safety of the journalist and his family. In addition, it calls for the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) of the Attorney General’s Office to address the case and initiate the corresponding investigations.

Since 2000, ARTICLE 19 has documented the killings of 15 journalists in Veracruz. Now, with the disappearance of Moisés Sánchez Cerezo, five communications professionals have gone missing in this municipality.