06/07/14 (written by akearns) — The decapitated body of journalist Jorge Torres Palacios was discovered partially buried in a shallow grave on Monday, June 2 in an abandoned lot in Plan de los Amantes, a village on the outskirts of Acapulco, Guerrero. Torres’ body was discovered 96 hours after being kidnapped by 12 armed men on May 29 from his home in El Coloso, an area known for its crime and violence. The Guerrero Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado, PGJE) confirmed Torres’ discovery after family members identified the victim. Torres’ body showed no signs of bullet holes, but was found inside of a bag, leading primary investigators to claim he died by asphyxiation before being decapitated. Authorities were led to the grave after receiving an anonymous call that tipped off the location.
Before his death, Torres was the public relations coordinator for the Municipal Department of Health (Comunicación Social de la Dirección de Salud municipal), and the lead on the nighttime news show “Radio y Televisión de Guerrero.” He also was the public relations spokesperson in Acapulco under Guerrero Governor Zeferino Torreblanco Galindo (2005-2011) and the Chief of Information under Governor René Juarez Cisneros (1999-2005). In addition, Torres served as author and contributor to several regional newspapers.
During the four days between Torres’ kidnapping and discovery, journalists in Acapulco staged protests demanding their colleague’s liberation and criticizing authorities for their inaction and leniency towards crimes against the media, and their delayed response to Torres’ case. Arguing the perceived inequality in treatment of kidnapping cases, protestors highlighted authorities’ rapid intervention when the kidnappings involve “more important people,” like the disappearance of a local legislator, Olaguer Hernández Flores, who authorities found and rescued only two days after being reported missing. In response, the current governor of Guerrero, Ángel Aguirre Rivero, said investigations into Torres’ death were beginning to hasten and investigators had already discovered potential leads. According to Noticieros Televisas, the Attorney General’s Office also reiterated its commitment to investigate, prosecute, and bring those responsible to justice.
Violence against journalists has long been a serious problem in Mexico. In a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Mexico ranks in the bottom seven countries worldwide in its efforts to punish and investigate crimes against journalists. Per million inhabitants, Mexico has 0.132 unsolved murders of journalists, compared to Iraq’s 3.067, the highest rate worldwide. Meanwhile, the organization Artículo 19 released its own report claiming that of the 330 acts of aggression against journalists reported in 2013, 60% were committed by government officials.