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Francisco Ortiz Franco
June 22, 2004


He was just getting into his car with two of his young children when a hooded stranger approached and shot the journalists with four bullets at close range. The children were beyond surprised, they were in a state of shock -- in painful silence, terrified, watching their father in the front seat, bent forward over the steering wheel, covered in blood and not breathing – dead, while in the plain light of day the gunman fled the calm Tijuana neighborhood where they lived.

Up until this June 22, 2004, the day the life of FRANCISCO ORTIZ FRANCO was so brutally extinguished; he had always been a model professional: honest and reliable, willing and supportive, someone who called for the defense of press freedom, meaning the right of people to be informed. For that reason he stood up against the self-censorship that some media practiced as a security measure.

It was the Attorney General for the Mexican state of Baja California who announced two months later that the co-editor of the weekly Zeta, in Tijuana, was killed by a hit man from the Arellano Felix cartel, an illegal drug trafficking organization that was feeling the impact of the articles about it published by the journalist, especially one two days earlier that had revealed the identity of 71 of its members.

The crime entered the endless list of journalists killed or disappeared in Mexico, a list that has exploded because of the spiraling violence against the country's press. Impunity reigns in almost all the cases.

Six years after his death, in an emotional ceremony in Tijuana organized by the IAPA and the weekly "Zeta", the memory of the slain journalist was honored by, dozens of colleagues and his widow, Gabriela Ramirez, and their three children Francisco, Hector and Andrea. The documentary "The rustle of the words" was premiered --  an IAPA production based on the life and death of Ortiz Franco.

Because of the ineffectiveness of the Mexican State to identify and punish the perpetrators of this crime, in 2010 the IAPA submitted the case documentation to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), showing a series of procedural irregularities, the lack of justice and the airtight silence of federal officials, all of which leads to furthering impunity.

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