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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Four years after the murder of Mexican journalist in Ciudad Juárez, crime remains unsolved




By Rocío Gallegos*

Armando Rodríguez “El Choco”, a police beat reporter for newspaper El Diario in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, was murdered in Nov. 2008 in front of his house. Rodríguez was taking his daughter to school that morning and died protecting her.

Rodríguez was the first journalist to be killed in Ciudad Juárez since the beginning of a bloody turf war between two criminal organizations over the control of drug-trafficking routes in the region. More than 10,000 people have been killed in the city since 2008.

Rodríguez’s murder caused nationwide outrage; however, the crime remains unpunished. The following column was written by Rocío Gallegos, a Ciudad Juárez journalist, on the fourth anniversary of her colleague’s death.

CIUDAD JUAREZ, MEXICO – Armando Rodríguez’s last day in the newsroom of El Diario de Juárez was a busy one. He covered the sentencing of a thief, he wrote about the identity of seven individuals who were murdered in separate events, and around 3 p.m. he returned to the streets to cover the slaying of two officers with Chihuahua State’s Agency of Investigations.

That was his last article. He left the newsroom late that night and never came back. He was murdered during the first hours of the next day, Nov. 13, 2008. His body was shot 10 times.

Four years have gone by since that day and no state or federal law enforcement agency has made any progress in solving the crime against the journalist we lovingly called “Choco.”

Investigators have provided erroneous information on the case. Even President Felipe Calderón lied when he assured, in September 2010, that two of the men responsible had been detained and the case had been solved. Two years after that false announcement, the crime not only continues to remain unsolved – and the alleged perpetrator without being charged – but the impunity that surrounds the case serves as a corollary to the brutal wave of violence that, like never before, has taken the lives of dozens of Mexican colleagues.

The government gives the impression that it investigates and protects journalists and the media, launching safety protocols that in reality don’t work. Truth is, it has left us alone against impunity.

In that context, we now see Calderón’s administration coming to a painful end. It seems President Calderón will end his mandate having failed on his commitment to investigate “to its last consequences” the murder of Armando, the most experienced and well-informed journalists on law enforcement topics on this border.

What’s more regrettable is that the call for justice has not resonated at the state level either, and even though the current administration came in more than two years ago, the government of the state of Chihuahua has done little to solve this murder.

There hasn’t been an agency capable of producing results to bring to justice the man that not only put an end to the life of a journalist and destroyed a family, but that also attempted against freedom of expression and society’s right to be informed.

Those 10 shots ended with his life but weren’t able to silence his voice, because from that moment it expanded beyond the borders and unified journalists.

Thus, we the journalists of Juárez continue fighting to obtain justice for our friend, for our colleague. We cannot accept to be indifferent or to forget.

*Rocío Gallegos is a journalist in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, co-founder of the Journalists’ Network of Ciudad Juárez and has been an editor at El Diario de Juárez in several occasions.



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