30 Outubro 2012

Newsman murdered in Michoacan

On Monday, July 5 at 9:00 p.m. journalist Hugo Alfredo Olivera Cartas received a call on his cel phone, he hung up and told the newsroom at the newspaper El Día de Michoacán that he was going out because one of his sources would be giving him some information. Just over five hours later he was found dead.
On Monday, July 5 at 9:00 p.m. journalist Hugo Alfredo Olivera Cartas received a call on his cel phone, he hung up and told the newsroom at the newspaper El Día de Michoacán that he was going out because one of his sources would be giving him some information. Just over five hours later he was found dead. He was a reporter and photographer in Apatzingán, a town located in one of the regions where the illicit drug trade, using fear, has cowered the authorities and the residents, it being a major area of cultivation of marijuana and the trafficking of drugs. Officials report that the criminal gang known as La Familia (The Family) is dominant there. Olivera Cartas was shot three times under the left ear by a weapon believed to be .32mm according to the police report that was made part of the initial inquiries by the State Attorney’s Office. He had not been beaten, but “he showed signs of having been handcuffed, though the cuffs were not found.” He was discovered at 2:30 a.m. His body had been left in his grey 2004 Ford pickup truck with license plate number HA-85-093 issued by Guerrero state. It was parked alongside a firing range located on a traill leading from Apatzingán to the town of Buenavista Tomatián, near Galeana Ranch, the property of former governor Cuautemoc Cárdenas Solorzano. Olivera Cartas focused on coverage of security and justice matters. He had been a stringer for various news media, but at this time, his family said, he was working as a correspondent of La Voz de Michoacán newspaper and Cadena 3 Noticias television network, and for the news agencies Quadratín and Esquema, for which he provided photos and video, and he was also an editor at the El Día de Michoacán, the newspaper owned by his father. He was about to launch a news agency specializing in the police beat, to be called ADN. Michoacán, along with Guerrero state, is one of the places where most journalists have been murdered in recent years and where the authorities have failed to solve any of such cases. In just these last eight months two journalists have gone missing – María Aguilar Casimbe and Ramón Angeles Zalapa, both with the Michoacán newspaper Cambio, correspondents in the Michoacán townships of Zamora and Paracho, respectively. Olivera Cartas was 27, he was married with two children. His family says he had never received any direct threats. His reports, his colleagues recall, were about the violent acts that occur day after day in the area. He did not get involved in investigating. A number of reporters say he was a very likeable person, on occasions he would obtain additional facts and sometimes he exposed himself greatly in his coverage, such as when it had to do with shootouts, for example. He once commented to his colleagues that among his friends was a general and various other members of the military, so he felt somewhat protected. David Olivera, his father, in addition to owning the newspaper worked as a Civil Protection officer in Apatzingán. Some of the reporters said that he was “a great person,” but others declared that his relations with officials were not very clear and he might have been serving “certain interests.” Direct attack, the background Five months ago Olivera Cartas went to the regional offices of the State Human Rights Commission to submit a complaint, given the number CEDH/MICH/1/023/02/10-D1, in which he reported that on February 18, 2010, at around 7:00 p.m., he had been beaten up and threatened by what were said to be federal police officers when he went to cover a clash between such officers and residents of the town of Chiquihuitillo. This is what he related, according to what was published at the time in El Diá de Michoacán: “At the time of the report I was at the headquarters of the 51st Infantry Battalion and I immediately came out behind the soldiers, who were also going to the scene of the clash in support of the federal force. On arriving at the turnoff that leads to the town of Chiquihuitillo, on the Apatzingán to Cuatro Caminos highway, the military commander asked me to wait for the second convoy so as to be sure that it was safe for us to enter the place where the things were happening in order to carry out our job of reporting. “Moments later a Federal Police convoy went past, the last two trucks in the convoy halted, one of them carrying the number 10858, they turned back to where I was, then the guys loaded their weapons, pointed at me and ordered me to lie on the ground and put my hands on the back of my neck; I pointed out to them that I had a credential from the newspaper I worked for, on the back of which was the word Press, as did the vehicle I was traveling in. After they had me kneeling with my hands on the back of my neck a federal police officer arrived and kicked me in the back, knocking me to the ground, where two policemen began to beat me up, then members of the Mexican Army arrived and because they know me they asked the others to leave me alone, then rescuing me from the federal police officers who had been beating me, and finally they saved me.” The State Commission said it was not within its competence and the case file was turned over to the National Human Rights Commission. Initial inquiries into the murder The Public Prosecutor’s Office began the initial inquiries, numbered 29/2010, in the homicide specialized agency, to which some family members and colleagues of Olivera Cartas went to explain that apparently he had gone out to cover a suicide note and was followed by a group of persons. None of the people close to him could establish contact with him and learned what had happened when the authorities telephoned his home early in the morning. At first, one of the main lines of investigation that the Michoacán authorities leaked to the news media was that the crime could have been the product of an assault, because Olivera Cartas was found without his wristwatch, rings and cel phone and his briefcase was on one of the seats in the van. However, early today the offices of El Día de Michoacán, particularly where Oliver Cartas worked, “were ransacked,” the same at his home, his family complained to the authorities, according to the initial inquiries. The Quadratin news agency reported that the family went to the regional assistant public prosecutor’s office to identify and claim the body. “During that time, which lasted for several hours, the newspaper office and that of the future specialized police affairs were ransacked. They mentioned that the intruders took only computer hard drives, memory and some CPUs, however the monitors were untouched, ‘as if they were looking for certain files,’ they said. The formal complaint will be presented once the funeral services are over,” the agency said in a note issued today. For this reason journalists in Michoacán demand that the authorities investigate in depth so as to discard all possible theories and learn the real motives for his murder.