SLP: Another Mexican Photo-Journalist Found Dead

Posted by Yaqui from: The Guardian

Photo-Journalist Edgar Daniel Esqueda Castro

By: David Agren, Mexico City, Oct 6, 2017
Additional Info from: Proceso

Today Mexican photo-journalist Edgar Esqueda Castro was found dead after abduction by armed men. Yesterday, Oct 5th, the group of armed men appeared to be agents of the State Ministerial Police. The 
 body of Edgar Esqueda was found Friday morning near the Ponciago Arraigo International Airport in the industrial city of San Luis Potosí, some 200 miles (350 kilometres) north of Mexico City, according to local media.

Edgar Esqueda’s body, was half naked, showed signs of torture and his hands were tied behind his back. found in San Luis Potosí. Esqueda had previously received threats from authorities over photos he published of shootouts.

The Mexican photo-journalist who was abducted at gunpoint from his home has been found dead, the seventh journalist to be killed this year in one of the world’s most dangerous countries for media workers. Esqueda covered police and crime for the digital outlets Vox Populi SLP and Metrópoli SLP.
Vox Populi SLP reported on its Facebook page that Esqueda’s hands had been bound and his body showed signs of torture.

Crime Scene Cordoned off by PoliceTape
near SLP Int”l Airport
His family said he had been dragged from their home on Thursday morning by gunmen wearing police uniforms. The San Luis Potosí state attorney general’s office tweeted a statement saying its officers were not involved in any abduction.
Jan-Albert Hootsen, representative in Mexico for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), said Esqueda had told them that he had been threatened by investigators over photos he had taken of a shootout. He had also reported to the State Human Rights Commission and the State Attorney’s Office. State officials told the Associated Press no lines of investigation were being ruled out. News outlets in San Luis Potosí confirmed that the photojournalist had reported the threats to the authorities.

Thursday, at his home in Colonia Julian Carrillo, his family reports that Edgar Esqueda was taken by men: ” who identified themselves as Ministerials after breaking the glass of a window to enter the house 

on Calle La Fragua at 8:30 in the morning.”

His family filed a complaint at the PGR’s office, where he was initially categorized as an “Illegal Deprivation of Liberty” and his case was assigned to the Prosecutor’s Office of Kidknappings. The Prosecutor , Federico Garza Herrera, denied any wrong-doing or responsibility by any authorities, although it is known that the victim had filed a complaint with the State Human Rights Commission for specific threats by the Ministerials.

“The state’s Ministerial Police reports that no police action has been taken against a reporter from the capital city, who was removed from his home Thursday morning by alleged people who said they were from this corporation. The SME denied that it was its members who carried out this action ( sic ). The Office of the Attorney General of San Luis Potosí investigates these facts and supports the family of the victim in the procedures necessary for the location and closure.

Reporters from several local media outlets went to the prosecutor, Federico Garza, and the governor, Juan Manuel Carreras López, to deliver a letter and demand a fast and effective action in the search for Esqueda Castro. Officials of the Ministerial Police admitted the existence of the complaint, but minimized the fact.

“There is a first responder who covers a perimeter, it has to be respected not only by graphic reporters, but by all; they were trained ,the agents, to conduct themselves with education, with kindness and let them know that the perimeter of the crime scene is established by new law. Edgar Daniel’s complaint was related to an exchange of different criteria, but he did not tell us about aggression or pushing, but rather a difference of opinion,” state officials said.

The Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) and the Article 19 Organization issued alerts to sue state authorities and federal authorities for the location of Edgar Daniel Esqueda Castro and  to  investigate the entrance to his home.

“Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in the world. If the Mexican government is really committed to press freedom, as it claims, it must prevent kidnappings and murders of journalists, “said Alexandra Ellerbeck, coordinator of CPJ’s North America Program.

“In 2017, at least seven journalists  were killed  in retaliation for their work, according to the CPJ investigation, and CPJ is investigating the circumstances of another murder. CPJ has documented the disappearance of 14 journalists in Mexico, excluding Esqueda Castro. In May, journalist Salvador Adame Pardo was kidnapped from his home and executed in the state of Michoacán,” the agency recalled.

Meanwhile, the Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists from the Ministry of the Interior (SEGOB) issued a statement: it regretted the murder of the journalist and demanded that “the competent authorities” carry out an immediate and effective investigation with those responsible for the crime.

The Mechanism confirmed that at the end of last July it received a communication from the State Human Rights Commission informing them of the complaint filed by the journalist for acts attributed to agents of the Ministerial Police who, on at least two occasions, tried to cover up his work as a photographer of two incidents of violence, and that Edgar complained of being approached by municipal police that prevented him from performing his work and that they threatened him.

“He was approached by five detectives on July 4th who threatened to take his camera and beat him up if he continued taking photos,” according to a statement by a federal agency responsible for providing journalists with protection. “They made him erase his  material and ran him off.”

Esqueda was later confronted by state investigative police while covering another event July 13th  and was asked to show his ID – which was photographed – and was told by the officers that they would be watching him and his home, Mexican media reported.

The officers also suggested – without presenting proof – that Esqueda might be using his work to pass along information to criminals, the Associated Press reported.

According to the communiqué, the Mechanism requested information from the ECHR on the protection measures offered to the photographer and the agency responded that in addition to Esqueda Castro had filed a criminal complaint with the Attorney General’s Office, the State’s Ministerial Police Commissioner had “Accepted” the measures dictated by the agency in favor of the journalist.

That is, the same body of authorities whose elements were identified as those who poured threats against the photographer, and were entrusted to provide protective measures.

This morning, after confirming the finding of the body of Edgar Daniel, a group of journalists protested outside the Government Palace, with cards demanding justice for the murder of their partner.

The journalist Everardo Ramírez criticized the deficiencies of the Mechanism of protection and the action of the different authorities since the photographer received threats and after his later deprivation of freedom.

The reporters, photographers and cameramen who participated in the protest are terrified after the murder of Edgar Daniel and the violent events that have been reported in the state in recent months.

Edgar Esqueda was the seventh journalist murdered in Mexico this year, according to CPJ. Four of those cases are confirmed to be related to the victims’ work as journalists.

In March, the reporter Miroslava Breach was murdered as she drove her eight-year old son to school in the northern city of Chihuahua. The gunmen left a note saying: “For being a loud-mouth.”

Soon afterwards, El Norte, the Ciudad Juárez newspaper she contributed to, closed down; explaining the decision, its editor Oscar Cantú Murguia said in a statement: “there are neither the guarantees nor the security to exercise critical, counterbalanced journalism.”

Javier Valdez, Gunned down with 12 Gunshots Outside his Office at Riodoce
Culiacan , Sinaloa May 15, 2017
Riodoce = 12 Rivers, One of Mexico’s Best and Outspoken Journalists
In mid-May, Javier Valdéz, one of the two founders of the Sinaloa’s news-weekly Ríodoce, was pulled from his car as he left his office in the northwestern city of Culiacán and shot 12 times at close range. Both  journalists investigated drug cartel issues, though Valdez always expressed uneasiness with the confluence of political corruption and organized crime.

As in many previous attacks on media workers in Mexico, both crimes remain unsolved and unpunished. Today, Friday,  around 100 people, most of them journalists, joined a protest in San Miguel Potosí. Some waved signs reading: “No more dead journalists” and “Am I next?”

It continues being a matter of impunity,” said Javier Garza, a journalist in the northern city of Torreón.

“After all the outrage over Javier Valdez’s murder, nothing is happening. Anybody thinking about killing or kidnapping a journalist will say: ‘If they didn’t do anything with a high-profile person like Javier Valdez, then they won’t do anything in other cases.”

Mexico has registered 26,984 homicides in the first eight months of 2017, at 17 percent increase over the same period in 2016, according to government statistics.

San Luis Potosí state has boomed economically with the arrival of automotive investments in recent years, but also been plagued by drug cartel violence.