Miami (June 12, 2012)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today urged Mexican authorities to act swiftly to discover the whereabouts of journalist Hypathia Stephanía Rodríguez Cardoso and her two-year-old son, who have been missing since last Friday.
The family of Rodríguez Cardoso, a reporter with the newspaper Zócalo de Saltillo in the northern state of Coahuila, reported the disappearance from their home early on Friday, June 8. The 30-year-old journalist, who covers the police beat for her newspaper, had attended a “Day of the Journalist” celebration with her son the evening before their disappearance. At around 2:00 a.m., she told her colleagues she had arrived home safely.
However, the failure of Rodríguez Cardoso to turn up for work on Friday was suspicious, and the family’s inability to contact her by phone alerted them that something was amiss. According to the newspaper, her family went to Cardoso’s home and found everything in disarray, her camera destroyed, and no sign of her, her son, or her car, the Zócalo de Saltillo reported.
The Chair of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gustavo Mohme, declared, “We have before us an extraordinary situation, where not only has the journalist disappeared, but also her little boy. We trust that this case will end up well and that we won’t have to regret its outcome.”
After several days without knowing the whereabouts of the reporter and her son, a rumor spread in Saltillo of the possibility that she had been detained by some government agency. However, entities consulted by the IAPA’s Rapid Response Unit (RRU) in Mexico denied this. The RRU was unable to contact neither executive staff at the Zócalo de Saltillo newspaper, nor members of the reporter’s family to confirm if they had been notified by some government office about her alleged arrest.
The case is under the jurisdiction of the Mexican Attorney General’s Office that has begun an investigation into the disappearance.
Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, recalled that so far this year five journalists have been killed in Mexico – Gabriel Huge, Guillermo Luna, Esteban Rodríguez, Regina Martínez and Marcos Antonio Ávila García, the latter kidnapped on May 17 with his body found the following day.
Since 2006, attacks on and threats to journalists and news media by members of organized crime have increase in Coahuila, but so far neither the federal nor state governments have acted to put an end to these assaults or to prevent the prevailing impunity surrounding these cases.
The disappearance of Rafael Ortiz Martínez took place in July 2006. Martínez was a reporter with the newspaper Zócalo de Monclova and host of the radio program in which he exposed the sale of drugs in various parts of the city. Four years later, in January 2010, Valentín Valdés Espinoza, another reporter with the Zócalo de Saltillo, was kidnapped and killed. This incident was linked to the information he published about the Zetas gang. In recent years, newspaper and television plants in the cities of Piedras Negras, Torreón, and Saltillo in Coahuila state have also been the target of shootings and hand-grenade attacks.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. The IAPA Impunity Project is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and has the mission of combating violence against journalists and lessening the impunity surrounding the majority of such crimes. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org; http://www.impunidad.com