Three years after Mexican photojournalist’s death, investigation remains at a standstill

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  • September 19, 2013

By Carola Guerrero De León*

Three years after the killing of Luis Carlos Santiago Orozco, a 21-year-old Mexican photojournalist for newspaper El Diario in Ciudad Juárez in the Northern state of Chihuahua, the investigation into his death remains mired in impunity.

On Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2010 an unidentified gunman attacked Santiago Orozco and fellow photojournalist Carlos Manuel Sánchez Colunga while they were driving around a shopping center located two blocks away from El Diario’s building. Santiago Orozco died after being shot in the head. Sánchez Colunga was wounded after receiving two shots.

According to El Diario, state authorities’ investigation into the case has not made any progress since November 2010.

“It’s a topic that worries us. This crime is within our priorities, of which we regrettably have nothing. We catalog these cases as high-impact unresolved crimes,” said state prosecutor Jorge González Nicolás to El Diario.

Santiago Orozco’s murder was a tipping point for the publication. Three days after his death, El Diario published an editorial titled, “What do You Want From Us?,” addressing drug cartels in the city directly. The article recognized the paper’s willingness to compromise its news coverage for the safety of its reporters and the drug cartels’ de facto authority in the city.

Two years before his death, an unidentified gunman shot and killed El Diario crime reporter Armando Rodríguez. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the investigation into his murder halted after a month. Last month, Mexico's special prosecutor for crimes against journalist said her office would take Rodríguez's case from Chihuahua State's jurisdiction.

According to the Journalists' Network of Juárez, 19 journalists have been killed in Chihuahua in the last 13 years. Fifteen of them were killed during former Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s six-year term, which concluded last year.

Data gathered by CPJ ranked Mexico as the seventh deadliest country for journalists in the beginning of Felipe Calderon’s term in 2006. By 2010, when Santiago Orozco was killed, Mexico escalated to the fourth spot of this list.

*Carola Guerrero De León is a student in the class "Reporting Latin America" at the University of Texas at Austin.

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.