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Journalist Who Was Granted Government Protection Due to Previous Assassination Attempt, Is Killed

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Left: Journalist Gustavo Sánchez Cabrera, killed June 17 2021.
Right: Mayor Vilma Martínez Cortés, who journalist Sánchez accused of orchestrating a previous attack on him, poses with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

In less than 24 hours, two journalists have been killed in Mexico. In the state of Mexico, the dead body of former journalist Enrique García was found on board his vehicle at midnight meanwhile journalist Gustavo Sánchez Cabrera was shot in Tehuantepec, Oaxaca. 

The most recent reports indicate former journalist Enrique García was working as a cab driver in the DiDi system and the State Attorney General’s Office preliminarily indicated that the attack on Enrique García was the result of an attempted robbery unrelated to his work.

But and however, Gustavo Sánchez Cabrera, the reporter who was killed in Oaxaca, is the story of the journalist who did everything he was supposed to do.

He went through all the necessary bureaucratic processes in order to request protection. He was officially granted that protection by a federal mechanism that was created to defend journalists.

And yet he was still killed because that protection never materialized.

The Death of Gustavo Sánchez Cabrera

At approximately 8 am on the morning of Thursday June 17 2021, journalist Gustavo Sánchez Cabrera was riding a motorcycle with his 15 year old son on the road between San Vicente and Morro Mazatán in the municipality of Santo Domingo Tehuantepec, within the state of Oaxaca. Sánchez Cabrera and his son reportedly were travelling to the local cemetery when a group of unknown armed individuals opened fire on them. 

Photo of journalist Gustavo Sánchez Cabrera.

Details of the attack on Sánchez Cabrera differ. Newspaper El Universal reports that unknown individuals shot him in the head and fled in a green car. Whereas Milenio newspaper reports that the armed unknown individuals fled on foot, running down a dirt road after the attack on Sánchez Cabrera. 

By the time paramedics arrived at the scene of the shooting, Sánchez Cabrera no longer showed vital signs. His son was injured and had to be transferred to the hospital by ambulance. The current condition of his son is unknown at this time. 

The head of the Oaxaca State Attorney General’s Office Arturo Peimbart Calvo reported that an official investigation has begun on the homicide of Gustavo Sánchez Cabrera and “there is already evidence of the alleged perpetrators.” Peimbart Calvo added that there is a protected witness who is collaborating with investigators.

Location where Gustavo Sánchez Cabrera was shot.

Gustavo Sánchez Cabrera writer and editor of the Policiaca del ISTMO, he also worked for El Imparcial, Tiempo, Enfoque, among other media outlets. Arturo Peimbert Calvo stated that one of the lines of investigation is related to Sánchez’s reporting on criminal activity, the electoral process and his investigative work into political groups.

“His activity affected some interest and we are reviewing that part, we will proceed with full force, an aggression to any person who gives a voice to those who have no voice, is an aggression to society,” said Peimbert.

He Had Been Shot Before for his Journalism

Since as early as 2013, Sánchez Cabrera has received threats over his reporting. In fact, June 17 2021 was not the first time Cabrera had been shot in alleged retribution for his journalism.

On June 20, 2020, Sánchez Cabrera was the victim of an assassination attempt right outside his home. “The bullets punctured his lung and injured his arm,” said a person familiar with Sánchez Cabrera to The Associated Press, but who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to comment. His bullet wounds were so severe that Sánchez, in a panic, sent audios to his friends and colleagues in different WhatsApp groups warning that he was currently bleeding to death and needed an ambulance. 
Vilma Martínez Cortés, the municipal president that Sánchez Cabrera accused ordering an attack on him in 2020, poses with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Luckily, an ambulance made it in time to save Sánchez. He was able to survive and recover from the June 2020 attack. The Oaxaca Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation into the June 2020 attack.

According to TN, Sánchez Cabrera spoke to them and identified to them who he claims his attacker was. But the alleged attacker was never detained by authorities according to the person who spoke to the Associated Press.

He Was Granted Security That Never Materialized

After identifying his attacker to the Prosecutor’s Office and seeing that the person was not detained, Sánchez Cabrera tried a different route. He chose to publicly give testimony as to the identity of his attacker. 

This testimony was a part of his official request for security measures that would protect him and his family from future attacks from the Human Rights Ombudsman (DDHPO), an organization that reviews and issues security as precautionary measures to journalists. 

According to Milenio newspaper, Sánchez Cabrera testified that he believed that on the orders of the municipal president Vilma Martínez Cortés, Esteban de la Cruz Lagunas had attacked and threatened him, warning him “get off her.”

Vilma Martínez Cortés who is accused of order an assassination attempt on journalist Sánchez Cabrera poses with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

The protection measures Sánchez Cabrera requested were approved by the organization almost a month before his death, but they never materialized.

The Undersecretariat of Human Rights, of the Ministry of the Interior, notified the government of Oaxaca, as well as the municipality of Tehuantepec to grant precautionary measures in favor of Sánchez Cabrera, considering he was at risk. The Mechanism Board also requested the company that provides the security service to give Sánchez Cabrera an assistance button with a location device as an immediate response system. 

Just the days before his death Sánchez Cabrera had demanded the security he was granted be delivered. 

“Yesterday was the last time I spoke with him and he told me ‘I still don’t have anything. I’m still waiting, you don’t know how terrible that is’,” said the person familiar with Sánchez Cabrera to the Associated Press. 

“We asked the Oaxaca Prosecutor’s Office for a thorough investigation of the acts of aggression and threats that he had denounced at the time related to his journalistic work,” Reporters Without Borders indicated on his official Twitter account. “We regret that the protective measures… came too late.”

For Jan-Albert Hootsen, representative in Mexico of the Committee to Protect Journalists, an NGO based in New York, the murder of Sánchez is a clear example that the dangerous situation for the press in Mexico “has not changed.”

“The government was clearly disregarding its obligations,” said Hootsen.

Sources: El Pais, BillieParkerNoticias, TN

Gustavo Sánchez Cabrera Sources: Milenio , Associated Press, El Universal, El Pinero, ADN 40, CNN Espanol, Turquesa News, Explica

Felipe Enrique García García Sources:  Meganoticias, El Sol de Toluca, Etcétera, Nacion321


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    • Slimey

      Mexico is entirely lawless and extremely violent. Been that way for decades. :twisted:

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