Borderzine contributor Jago Molinet wrote this story in the newsroom of El Diario of El Paso a few hours after two young colleagues were gunned down in Juarez, Mexico. Molinet told me he wrote this in anger and frustration and as he wrote, his anger and frustration only grew. As I translated the article into English, I saw that he also wrote this lament with love, love for his fallen brothers and love for a profession that too often in Mexico today demands a journalist’s life.
—David Smith-Soto, Borderzine Executive Editor[Lea esta historia en español]
EL PASO, Texas — The news spread like wildfire through the newsroom —two young photojournalists from El Diario gunned down in Ciudad Juárez… one dead, one wounded.
They went to lunch and ended up splashed in their own blood, riddled by bullets blasted from the empty minds of unscrupulous assassins.
I didn’t know them personally, but I know of their aspirations, of so much hope and ambition now scattered with their blood in a mall parking lot under Juarez’ indifferent sky.
My God, Luis Carlos was only 21 years old, and Carlos Manuel is 18
How can we escape from that terrible ghost that steals our dreams as well as our lives?
To be a journalist in Mexico you have to have guts, but be invisible. You have to be a Don Quixote in this profession. You ask yourself if it is possible to guillotine fear and engage again in the day to a day routine of news gathering, again be one of those who truly, fearlessly, love truth.
Luis Carlos Santiago Orozco and Carlos Manuel Sanchez Colunga had just started careers and didn’t know fear, although they had to wander daily in its jaws.
What happened yesterday in that mall parking lot was a cold-blooded abortion of lives barely born. A murder born from the climate of fear that grips this city, the fear of them, those killers, who we now dignify by identifying them in news articles a s “armed commandos” or “unidentified armed men.”
Luis Carlos and Carlos Manuel never imagined that the weekend marking the celebration of the bicentennial of Mexican independence would turn into the dark messenger that would cut short their lives.
The young journalists had just begun to see the sunrise and shadows of their lives. They had just begun to experience the satisfaction of a job well done in a difficult profession.
Yesterday, I saw men cry and women curse with the worst words that a human being can utter. It was a mixture of pain, sadness and desperation, yes, desperation. They hadn’t known the victims, but they saw their own reflection in these truncated lives.
The news sounded again in the newsroom. “Breaking News: Two reporters from El Diario attacked in Ciudad Juárez. One photojournalist for El Diario de Juárez died and one was wounded.”
They had gone to lunch. The shooting occurred in the parking lot of the Rio Grande Mall, a shopping center located between López Mateos and Avenida Paseo Triunfo de la República.
They rode in a gray Nissan Platina. Orozco was driving and died instantly. Sanchez was badly wounded. He was taken to emergency services.
According to www.diario.com.mx, Orozco had worked at El Diario since late May and had high hopes of developing his career in photojournalism there. Sanchez Colunga was an intern who showed promise according to a coworker. “He’s good. He has a future in journalism,” he said.
The same source said the two young men had spent the morning attending a photography class at El Diario, just one block away from where they were gunned down.
Following the crime, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ, for its acronym in English) demanded action to stop the wave of attacks against Mexican journalists.
“The issue should be placed on the national agenda of priorities,” said CPJ coordinator for Latin America, Carlos Lauria.
Now we can only hope that somebody pays attention to that demand.
Related links: Murdered El Diario intern may not have been intended target.