Despite the first hours and days following a person’s disappearance being vital to any investigation, local and federal authorities have failed to follow up on the disappearance of Moisés Sánchez, a journalist from Veracruz.
It’s been over two weeks since the journalist was taken from his home in the municipality of Medellín de Bravo. The authorities’ response has been characterised by inaction and a lack of proactivity in investigating the facts, despite it being required both by international commitments regarding missing persons and by the protocols governing cases of this nature.
ARTICLE 19 Mexico, representing Moisés’s son Jorge Sánchez, gained access to the police records on the case and uncovered that neither the state nor federal authorities had made efforts to dispatch search teams, attempt to identify the route taken by the journalist’s captors following his disappearance, or obtain information that could reveal his whereabouts. Jorge Sánchez has also criticised the lack of communication between the authorities and his family regarding his father’s disappearance.
Actions at the state level have focused on verbal declarations and not on technical or expert inspections of the possible escape route, or identifying and locating the car in which he was taken from his home —all of which are basic protocols in a missing person’s investigation.
At the municipal level, contrary to public statements by the mayor, most municipal police did not receive instructions or orders from their commanders to carry out any search for Moisés Sanches.
Moisés Sánchez reported on issues of insecurity in Veracruz, disseminating citizens’ complaints. Sánchez is editor and publisher of the newspaper “The Union” Medellin de Bravo, and was generally very critical of the various problems in the municipality. Sánchez funded the paper’s publication by driving a taxi, which also allowed him to connect with and gather stories from local residents.
The journalism and activism of Sánchez, according to those close to the journalist, angered the Mayor of Medellín de Bravo. Three days prior to his disappearance, Sánchez allegedly learned that he had been threatened by Mayor Omar Cruz Reyes, who allegedly noted that someone needed to teach Sánchez a lesson.
From 2000 to date, ARTICLE 19 has documented the killing of 15 journalists in Veracruz; Moisés Sánchez can be added to the five journalists who have also gone missing since 2000 in the area. From 2007-2014, there have been 86 documented physical attacks on the press in the state, as well as 22 incidents of intimidation against journalists.
10 of the recording 15 killings documented by ARTICLE 19 in the region have occurred since the current government headed by Javier Duarte de Ochoa took office. Furthermore, the governor has publicly discredited the journalism of Moisés Sánchez, noting that “[…] he not a reporter, [he is] a taxi driver and neighbourhood activist […]”.
In view of the above, and the constant narrative used by state authorities to unlink the attacks, disappearances and murders of journalists from their profession, one must question the impartial and independent nature of the actions taken by state and municipal authorities in trying to find the whereabouts of the reporter.