Respected Mexican journalist’s murder likely to turn resource-rich region into a ‘silence zone’

Miroslava Breach (photo via @article19mx)

A newspaper reporter in Chihuahua, Mexico was killed this morning, becoming the second journalist murdered in Mexico this week. Shannon Young reports.

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Veteran journalist Miroslava Breach was shot eight times in front of her youngest son on her way to drop him off at school Thursday morning. She is the third journalist murdered this month in Mexico, after the fatal shootings of Ricardo Monlui on the 19th in Veracruz and of Cecilio Pineda March 2nd in Guerrero.

Breach was well known and respected among colleagues for her long tenure of examining the social toll of impunity and corruption in the border state. She regularly covered topics like the decades-long phenomenon of femicide, indigenous land struggles, organized crime and government accountability.

In her 15 years working as a correspondent for La Jornada, Breach became the only journalist regularly covering Chihuahua’s Sierra Tarahumara region for a national media outlet.

The Sierra Tarahumara is rich in precious minerals and old growth forests. It also has ample and hard-to-reach fertile land ideal for growing illicit crops.

Cartel-linked paramilitaries have for years carried out terrifying displacement campaigns against Chihuahua’s indigenous Tarahumara residents. In January, gunmen killed the area’s most high-profile indigenous land rights defender, Goldman Prize-winner Isidro Baldenegro.

One of Breach’s last reports for La Jornada was about the discovery of mass grave sites that investigators suspect were used for eight years to hide the bodies of kidnapping victims and disappeared persons.

Without Miroslava Breach’s reporting, the Sierra Tarahumara will likely become another journalism no-go ‘silence zone’ in Mexico’s media landscape.

The investigation into her murder will be a test for the relatively new governor of Chihuahua state who, as a senator, built a reputation as a defender of the free press in the hemisphere’s deadliest country for media workers.

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