LATIN AMERICA

Abducted Mexican reporter’s headless body turns up in Acapulco

Police blame crime on man who helped kill journalist Jorge Torres Palacios’ father and brother

A demonstration against attacks on journalists in March.
A demonstration against attacks on journalists in March.S. RUIZ

In Mexico, where 32 journalists have been murdered in the last four years and hundreds more live under death threats, the real news would have been if Jorge Torres Palacios had turned up alive.

But this was not the case. Torres Palacios, a reporter and government worker for the city of Acapulco, was found dead on Monday after being kidnapped outside his home on Thursday evening.

His body was decapitated and dismembered and showed other signs of extreme violence, the local media reported.

Before working for the city, Torres Palacios had been a correspondent for the private network Televisa, for the newspaper Novedades and for a local television station.

His father Tomás and brother Juan died during a shootout with a drug gang on January 1, 2001

He was a well-known figure in Acapulco, which for years has served as territory for a violent confrontation between the government and the drug cartels, as have other parts of the country. His father Tomás and brother Juan died during a shootout on January 1, 2001, according to several journalist associations.

Authorities are blaming the murder on José Isabel Flores Arizmendi, also known as “El Chabelo,” a hitman who participated in the death of Torres Palacios’ family members on orders from his uncle, the deceased drug kingpin Abel Arizmendi Flores. El Chabelo remains at large. In Mexico, 98.2 percent of murders go unpunished.

Acapulco, once a major tourist destination, has become one of the most violent cities in the world, according to Mexican non-profit group Consejo Ciudadano para la Seguridad Pública y la Justicia Penal (Citizen Council for Public Safety and Penal Justice). The port of Guerrero, on the Pacific coast, registers 113 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. The World Health Organization uses the term “epidemic” to describe any cause of death that kills more than 10 people out of every 100,000.

Reporters Without Borders lists Mexico as one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists

Reporters Without Borders has Mexico down as one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists, along with Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Mexican government has announced a protection system for reporters, but journalists who have sought assistance say it is inefficient.

On Friday, the day after Torres Palacios was kidnapped by a group of 12 individuals driving three vehicles, his partner Martha Helguera and his son Jorge led a protest in front of Acapulco City Hall, where around 100 people chanted: “They took him away alive, and we want him back alive!”

The story is tragically similar to that of Gregorio Jiménez, a reporter from Veracruz who was kidnapped in February by a group of armed men. Despite public demands for his safe return, his decapitated body was found some time later.

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