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State authorities launch joint operation to find missing journalist in Mexico

By Alejandro Martínez

Authorities in the state of Zacatecas have launched a joint operation to locate a journalist who went missing last Saturday.

Zoila Edith Márquez Chiu, a correspondent with TV news agency Línea Informativa, was last seen on Dec. 7. According to newspaper La Jornada, four persons in a vehicle cut her off while she was driving down the streets of the state's capital and forced her to go with them.

Zacatecas governor Miguel Alonso Reyes ordered a search operation that has received the assistance of local police agents, state authorities and the Mexican Army, news agency EFE reported.

Línea Informativa's website has not published any news since Tuesday and currently displays a large black-and-white photograph of Márquez Chiu.

“Our everyday effort to report the news has been interrupted by the absence of our friend and colleague. All of our energies are being focused in collaborating with relatives and authorities to find her as soon as possible," Línea Informativa wrote.

“We trust that you'll rejoin your family and regular activities shortly, and we ask authorities to make their best effort to preserve the integrity of an exceptionally good person. The doors to this, your editorial home, await you..."

Zacatecas' attorney general Arturo Nahle García confirmed that Márquez Chiu was missing but said it wasn't considered a kidnapping since the journalist's relatives had not received any ransom calls, news weekly Proceso reported.

Meanwhile, Mexico's National Commission for Human Rights has filed a formal complaint and contacted the journalist's family to offer its support.

Journalism organizations Reporters Wihtout Borders (RSF) and Article 19 have called for an immediate investigation that takes into account the journalist's occupation as a possible motive.

“We hope enough resources are deployed to find Márquez safe and sound as soon as possible,” RSF said. “The authorities must respond to her family’s appeal. There is so far no proof that she has been kidnapped but the police should investigate the possibility that her disappearance is linked to her work.”

According to Article 19, Márquez Chui works as a reporter and editor at Línea Informativa and covers general assignment stories and citizen surveys. One of the last topics she covered was a student strike in Zacatecas. She had received no threats prior to her disappearance.

Márquez Chiu joins a list of 20 other journalists who have gone missing in Mexico since 2003, Article 19 said.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Mexico is the country with the most missing journalists in the world.

See below a map of missing journalists in Mexico produced by Article 19:

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.

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