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Journalists Say Attempts To Scare, Silent Them Won’t Succeed

July 20, 1986

MATAMOROS, Mexico (AP) _ Colleagues who paid final respects to two crusading journalists shot to death by unknown killers in this border city insist they they won’t be intimidated, but they’re wondering who’s next.

″We don’t want this to be an infringement on the freedom of expression for us or anybody,″ said reporter Hector Miguel Chavez of the Matamoros newspaper El Bravo. ″We should have the right to criticize the administration, criminals, anybody.

″We can’t be at the mercy of murderers,″ he said.

Ernesto Flores Torrijos, publisher of El Popular, and Norma Moreno Figueroa, assignments editor of the anti-corruption tabloid, died in a hail of bullets when they arrived at work Thursday.

It was one month after a newspaper publisher in another border town was shot to death.

On Friday, friends and family paid last respects to Flores Torrijos and Ms. Moreno Figueroa and called on officials to find their killers.

″Matamoros is a very difficult town,″ Mayor Jesus Roberto Guerra said. ″All the border towns are difficult, but the police can only do so much.″

Victor Purata, a reporter for El Popular, agrees.

″Here in Matamoros, like in other parts of Mexico, there are narcotics smugglers, illegal-alien smugglers, electronics smugglers, weapons smugglers, corrupt politicians and just plain thieves and murderers,″ Purata said.

″When we have proof of something we print it. Lots of other newspapers won’t do that, but we will,″ he said. ″We are going to keep going like we are, without change.″

In Reynosa, 60 miles west of Matamoros, police still are investigating the June 17 killing of allergist Dr. Jorge Brenes, 46, publisher of two newspapers and chairman of the board of a university.

Brenes was shot four times by an unidentified man wearing a motorcycle helmet who appeared at the publisher’s home as he was meeting with five editors. The man lifted the helmet’s plastic shield to ask for Brenes, and when the publisher identified himself, he opened fire.

Two days later, a police officer investigating the slaying was killed and another injured when they stopped two men for questioning. No arrests have been made in either slaying.

Authorities don’t believe the killings in Reynosa and Matamoros are connected.

On Thursday, Flores Torrijos and Ms. Moreno Figueroa, who lived near each other, traveled to work together as they frequently did.

They pulled up to the curb across the street from the newspaper building. As they stepped from the publisher’s car, they were hit by a barrage of .45- caliber and 9mm bullets.

Police said they have gotten little useful information from witnesses.

Flores Torrijos, 47, knew about organized crime in his hometown. Ms. Moreno Figueroa, 24, wrote about that and alleged political corruption in her daily column.

″This was an attempt to stop the truth, to shut up the reporters,″ said Virginia Castillo, a magazine reporter and a friend of Ms. Moreno Figueroa.

On Friday, about 100 journalists gathered in near 100-degree temperatures in the city’s main plaza. Some wiped tears from their eyes as they stood in a semicircle near a statute of Mexican statesman Benito Juarez. A flag flew at half staff.

After 10 minutes, the crowd dispersed and walked across the street to City Hall to talk with the mayor, who was meeting with Tamaulipas Attorney General Felipe A. Flores Garcia.

″To tell yo the truth, we don’t have much hope that this will be resolved, but I hope and pray that it will be resolved,″ Mario Diaz Rodriguez, president of the journalists’ association, told the attorney general.

Garcia replied: ″We will do whatever is humanly possible to catch the assassins. We have to interview the families, but right now they are in mourning and we really can’t question them a great deal. We have no suspects.″

The journalists told the attorney general about a flier distributed two weeks ago that bore Ms. Moreno Figueroa’s picture and derogatory comments about her.

On Friday, the newspaper Frontera in Reynosa, one of the two published by Brenes, asked, ″Who’s Next?″

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