Sun | Feb 16, 2020

Missing radio anchor found dead in Mexico’s Michoacán state

Published:Friday | January 17, 2020 | 12:39 AM

Mexico City:

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Monday urged Mexican authorities to open a credible and transparent investigation into the death of reporter Fidel Ávila Góme, whose body was found on January 7 near the state borders of Michoacán and Guerrero.

Ávila, a manager and anchor for the La Ke Buena radio broadcaster in the town of Huétamo, in Michoacán state, went missing on November 29, according to local and national media. A family member, who spoke with CPJ on condition of anonymity for their own security, said that Ávila’s work at the station may have put him in the cross hairs of the local organised crime group La Familia Michoacana. The relative said it was possible that issues of ‘protection money’ or coverage of organised crime which may have played a role in his killing.

“The murder of Fidel Ávila is a shocking and tragic start of the year for Mexico, which is already one of the most dangerous countries for journalists,” said CPJ Mexico Representative Jan-Albert Hootsen. “The government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador can no longer ignore the epidemic of impunity plaguing the country’s press.”

Body found

El Universal reported that Ávila’s body was found in a ditch near the town of San Lucas in Michoacán state. The report, citing the state attorney general’s office, said that Ávila had been shot several times. The report did not state when the reporter was likely killed or whether state authorities had opened an investigation. No further information on the possible motive of the killing has been provided to local or national media. The relative said he was unable to provide further information on the possible time of death.

According to the websites of El Universal and Radio Fórmula, Ávila’s family reported him missing on December 2. Letra Roja, a news website, reported on January 8 that the journalist was last seen on November 29, when he was travelling to Ciudad Altamirano, in Guerrero state, to attend a cultural festival. CPJ could not determine if he was planning to cover the festival.

Letra Roja reported that armed individuals intercepted Ávila en route and forced him into a white SUV. Several attempts by CPJ to reach Michoacán’s state attorney general’s office for further comment by telephone between January 9 and 13 went unanswered.

Ávila, 46, was a manager and news anchor for La Ke Buena, a radio broadcaster based in Huétamo. The journalist’s relative told CPJ that Ávila worked for the station for about 20 years, managing the station’s finances and regularly presenting news programmes.

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