Wednesday, June 23, 2004

# Posted 1:33 PM by Patrick Belton  

A SAD DAY FOR ALL FRIENDS OF MEXICO: Crusading journalist Francisco Ortiz Franco, was slain yesterday by the very drug cartels he spent his life combating, as he left a Tijuana clinic with his children.

Ortiz Franco's Tijuana-based weekly newspaper, Zeta, was founded in 1980 by a group of journalists - Jesús Blancornelas, Héctor Félix Miranda, and several like-minded friends - who made it their work to write explicitly about who was selling drugs, who was accepting bribes, and which government officials were turning their heads. Héctor 'El Gato' Félix Miranda was murdered in a Tijuana alley on 20 April, 1988. The narcobusinessman whose bodyguard was convicted in Félix Miranda's shooting, Jorge Hank Rhon, is now running for mayor of Tijuana. Blancornelas survived an assasination attempt and a hail of 400 bullets on 27 November, 1997, with his driver and friend Luis Valero Elizaldi not being so lucky. In a country where it is common practice for reporters to sell their coverage, or simply print government press releases verbatim, these people are showing that journalists can be heroes.

Francisco, que descanses en paz, y tus compadres, que Dios les bendiga.
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