A reporter living in Zamora (in the state of Michoacán), María Esther Aguilar Cansimbe was working for the Zamora daily El Diario and the state-wide newspaper Cambio when she disappeared aged 33 on 11 November 2009. A specialist in covering crime and police work, Aguilar left her home after getting a phone call and has not been seen since, leaving a husband and two young daughters.
The family reported her missing the same day to the Michoacán state prosecutor’s office. Reporters Without Borders urged the authorities to treat her work as the probable motive for her disappearance and participated in several meetings in which her case was discussed with the federal prosecutor’s office and the Executive Committee for Attention to Victims, which was urged to support her family, especially her two young girls.
Six years later, our Mexico correspondent reports that the case has been shelved after an investigation by the FEADLE (federal prosecutor’s office for violations of freedom of expression) that made little progress. Before disappearing, Aguilar covered a case of abuse of authority by Zamora police and traffic chief Lt. Jorge Arturo Cambroni Torres, who was fired shortly thereafter. The La Familia crime cartel had also harassed her in connection with her coverage of the arrests of two of its members, “El 19 y 1⁄2” in August and “El Bofo” in October 2009.
A year after Reporters Without Borders’s first #Fightimpunity campaign, it is clear that the investigation has been abandoned and that this case is sadly typical of the impunity for crimes against journalists in Mexico. It is vital that the judicial authorities relaunch the investigation. To this end, Reporters Without Borders wrote to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances on 30 August.
Mexico continues to be one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists, with at least 89 murdered and 17 disappeared in the past decade.