By Diego Cruz
Journalists in several Mexican states and other countries continue to demand the safe release of Veracruz reporter Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz, kidnapped on Feb. 5, through public protests in multiple cities and social media campaigns, according to newspaper El Universal.
Jiménez de la Cruz, who covers the police beat for newspapers Notisur and Liberal del Sur, was kidnapped by a group of armed individuals after receiving threats and reporting on kidnappings in the municipality of Coatzacoalcos in southern Veracruz.
The organization Periodistas a Pie uploaded a video to social media created by journalists from this southern region, where they said the state was the most dangerous for journalists since nine had been killed there between 2010 and 2013.
“We who do journalistic work ask for safety, that Gregorio Jiménez reappear, that there be no more kidnappings, that no family cry for a disappeared loved one; freedom of expression must not be restricted and nobody else must be kidnapped,” the journalists said in the video.
The organization also published photos and videos of reporters with their mouths covered by messages demanding the release of Jimenez de la Cruz, using the hashtags #GoyoTeQueremosVivo, #LoQueremosVivo and #QueremosVivoaGoyo.
Another video circulating social media was published by Mexico-based correspondents from Spanish newspaper El País, who introduced themselves personally, from different states in the country, and demanded Jiménez de la Cruz be returned safely, saying “We want him alive.”
In an open letter, photojournalist Miguel Angel Lopez Solana lamented the “intense and constant aggressions against freedom of expression” in Veracruz that have resulted in “irreparable losses and suffering.” Lopez Solana is currently in exile in the United States, following the killing of his family in the same state of Veracruz almost two years ago.
He criticized the authorities for how they handled the investigations of aggression against journalists in the past, saying they “seem like an accomplice in the crimes” because they fabricate witnesses and know “all about the victim and nothing about the perpetrator.”
“Today once more, we demand justice and an honest clarification of the aggression committed against Gregorio Jimenez. We are fed up with the lies and tired of ineptitude and stupidity,” Lopez Solana said.
According to El Universal, international support included journalists from the United States, South America, Egypt, Germany, the United Kingdom and France, while in Mexico public protests occurred in the states of Chiapas, Coahuila, Puebla, Chihuahua and Quintana Roo.
Aside from the original protest in the city where the crime occurred, journalists also marched in the municipality of Acayucan, where elements of the Public Safety Department (SSP) of the state tried to kick them out of their offices aggressively, resulting in injuries. This led to another protest in the state capital, Xalapa, where journalists criticized this aggression against their co-workers and once more demanded the safe release of Jimenez de la Cruz, El Democrata reported.
According to Proceso, journalists in Veracruz have carried out public protests for five consecutive days, demanding an intensification of the search by the SSP, the state’s Attorney General and the government of Javier Duarte.
In Torreón, Coahuila, the journalistic group Voces Irritilas organized a silent protest with communication professionals and students, who covered their mouths to symbolize repression and carried signs demanding the safe release of Jiménez de la Cruz, according to Milenio.
Carmela Hernandez, wife of Jiménez de la Cruz, said the state government has given her and her family “all the support” they needed and insisted her husband had been kidnapped by people he knew in the community, since he had only ever had problems with a neighbor who owned a bar he had written about in his work.
Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.