Source Article 19
Community journalist Rafael Murúa Manriquez, director of the community radio station Radio Kashanay, member of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), which transmits from the community of Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur, was disappeared and later murdered by unknown individuals on 20 January 2019. For 2 years he had been a victim of attacks and had received protection measures from the federal authorities.
According to information collected by ARTICLE 19 and AMARC Chapter Mexico, through a relative whose name is kept anonymous for security reasons, the journalist was last seen at around 20:00 hrs. on January 19. “Rafael called me to ask if everything was fine. I did not know more until at 2:00 hrs. (of the following day) I received the visit of a person (whose name is also omitted for security), who supposedly was with Rafael and who informed me that they had taken him away “.
This person saw Rafael for the last time, when he got out of the journalist’s car to enter a building for a few moments. When he left, he saw the doors open and the engine was on, while a guy was fleeing from the scene.
Rafael had been a target of threats for his work as a communicator since 2017. These had got significantly worse since June 1 of that year when he started to receive intimidating messages from a person allegedly linked to organised crime who demanded that he delete an article he had written about someone who had received a prison sentence and also that he publish an article critical of the Secretary of the Navy (Semar).
According to ARTICLE 19, the person who intimidated him at that time told Rafael that as soon as he got rid of the article he could “go on to collect”. The journalist replied that he was not going to publish articles either for or against, to which his interlocutor answered: “I’m not asking you for a favour, I’m telling you to upload it, journalist!” From that moment, Rafael decided to self-censor himself, move temporarily outside his municipality with the support of AMARC Mexico Chapter and request his incorporation into the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists.
His relatives reported that the Federal Protection Mechanism, of the Ministry of the Interior (Segob), ordered the installation of some security measures for his home and a security alarm, however, at the time of his death these measures had not been completely installed. After a period away in 2017, Rafael decided to return to his home town to continue with the Radio Kashana project.
Subsequently, on October 29, 2018, he wrote on his page #Gonzolador that he was being threatened by the President of the municipality of Mulegé, Felipe Prado, because of an article he had published entitled “Public Safety does not matter to Felipe Prado”.
In this blog, the journalist reported that the night after the publication of that article “people were warning me that they were going to assassinate me soon. Two days later a crowd of adults knocked loudly, repeatedly, on the garage of my home. At the same time at the other end of the house a bullet broke one of the windows on the second floor”.
Relatives confirmed that following this incident Rafael constantly said that he was afraid. “He even told me that he was sure they wanted to disappear and kill him. This was in December 2018, but he decided not to leave because he did not want to leave the community radio. ”
From 2000 to the present moment, ARTICLE 19 has documented a total of 122 journalists killed in Mexico. Just two months after the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador began, there have been two murders with some probable connection to their journalistic work: Jesús Alejandro Márquez in Nayarit, on December 2, 2018, and Rafael Murúa Manríquez, on January 20, 2019, in Baja California Sur.
It should be noted that the Attorney General’s Office of Baja California Sur issued a statement in which it reported the finding of a lifeless body at kilometer 40 of the Santa Rosalía-San Ignacio stretch of road, in the municipality of Mulegé, identifying Rafael Murder as the victim. The statement also said that they had found three packages with green and dry vegetable, with the characteristics of marijuana and other evidence.”
ARTICLE 19 and AMARC Chapter Mexico condemn the statement issued by the Baja California Sur Attorney’s Office, which emphasizes the “marijuana” supposedly found with the body of Rafael Murúa. This statement is an official smear, tending to criminalize Rafael and makes no reference to him as a journalist or the threats he had received and of which the state was fully aware.
Similarly, in said statement the Attorney General affirmed that the journalist’s body was found with “various perforations in the thorax.” However, in an inexplicable manner, the same Attorney General affirmed at a press conference today that Murúa was found with a bullet in the head. These inconsistencies indicate the lack of rigour in the investigation and are a violation of the right of the journalist’s relatives to know the truth.
President Lopez Obrador in his first days of government said that “we will give protection to all citizens and journalists.” The details in this case, do not show any commitment to comply with the obligations to prevent attacks on journalists in the country.