09/21/14 — A story that first broke because yet another journalist was attacked in Mexico has now developed into accusations that a mayor and municipal police force ordered the attack. On September 4, 24-year-old Karla Janeth Silva was assaulted in her office in Silao, Guanajuato when three armed men broke in and beat her, repeatedly kicking her in the head and chest. Silva is a reporter for news outlet El Heraldo de León.
The attack immediately caught the public’s attention after images of a beaten and bruised Silva surfaced in the media. Just days after the story broke, the Guanajuato State Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la Justicia del Estado, PGJE) then launched an investigation into the role local authorities had played, eventually leading to accusations that the Silao mayor and chief of municipal police force, had ordered the attack. Since then, authorities have arrested two of three of the armed suspects who actually carried out the orders.
The accusations of officials’ involvement appear to stem from a brewing tension between Silva and the local authorities. Reports indicate that Silva, in her profession as a reporter, had repeatedly tried to contact local authorities for interviews and information for stories, and was regularly denied her requests. At one point, Silao Mayor Enrique Benjamín Solís Arzola allegedly snapped at the journalist after she tried to contact him, stating, “Listen, I don’t want [to be bothered] any more!” For her part, Silva continued to report on issues surrounding local politics, increasing crime rates, and criticisms toward municipal authorities for “allegedly wasting resource and [their] lack of transparency.” Silva, who had admitted to colleagues she was concerned for her safety, immediately accused local authorities of being behind the attack, not just because of the growing frustrations and criticizing reports she had written, but also because the suspects demanded she change the tone of her publications during the attack.
As investigations continue, members of the National Action Party (Partido de Acción Nacional, PAN) are demanding that Mayor Solís, who is a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI), step down from his position, alleging his potential role in pressuring Municipal Police Chief Nicasio Aguierre to carry out the attack. “This type of practices are inconceivable, but it would make it even more grave if the head of Public Security [Seguridad Pública] had been instructed by his superior to take action,” explains the PAN in a public statement. “This is the motivation behind requesting Mayor Enrique Benjamín Solís Arzola step down and make himself available to the Attorney General and the corresponding authorities,” it continued. Nevertheless, Mayor Solís has denied the accusations and called Silva’s beating a “horrible act.” Meanwhile, national and international organizations including the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as well as public support from Guanajuato and neighboring states, have condemned the attacks and demanded those responsible be held accountable.