A doctor speaks to Marisela Reyes, sister of slain activist Josefina Reyes Salazar, after she underwent a medical exam in Mexico City February 22, 2011.Reyes has been on a hunger strike for 14 days to demand authorities find family members who were kidnapped on February 7, according to local media. Josefina Reyes Salazar was a campaigner against violence and human rights abuses by military officials and was shot dead near Ciudad Juarez in January 2010.
Officials in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua will provide protection to Marisela Reyes Salazar, sister of slain community activist Josefina Reyes, in the wake of the murders of three other members of her family, the state Attorney General’s Office said.
The move is being made because of the threats contained in messages found with the bodies of Marisela’s recently murdered siblings, Elias and Magdalena Reyes, Chihuahua Attorney General Jorge Gonzalez said.
The attacks on members of the Reyes Salazar family have been condemned both by Mexican and foreign officials.
The bodies of Elias and Magdalena Reyes, as well as that of Elias’s wife, Luisa Ornelas, were discovered on Feb. 25 by passersby on a dirt road outside Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s murder capital, bringing to six the members of the Reyes Salazar family who have been murdered in northern Mexico over the past two years.
Several “narco-messages” accusing the victims of working for criminal gangs were found with the corpses, officials said.
The three were kidnapped on Feb. 7 from a town in the Juarez Valley, which is coveted by drug traffickers as a key smuggling route.
“The most important thing about the content of the messages is the threat they contain, the accusations by the hitmen, I don’t have a basis and it is not up to me to investigate, it is up to the Attorney General of the Republic’s Office,” Gonzalez said.
Marisela Reyes Salazar and other relatives launched a campaign recently to pressure officials, camping out in front of the Senate in Mexico City to demand justice.
Sara Salazar, the family matriarch, protested for several days outside the Senate, alleging that federal and state officials were not vigorously investigating the abductions.
Over the weekend, the family held the wake for Elias and Magdalena across from the Chihuahua AG’s office in Ciudad Juarez, located across the border from El Paso, Texas.
Luisa Ornelas’s body was taken to the town where her family lives.
The Reyes Salazar family has claimed that paramilitary groups and not drug cartels may have been behind the killings.
Amnesty International has urged Mexican authorities to protect the “targeted family.”
“The Reyes family are clearly being targeted in the most brutal way ... the Mexican authorities’ top priority must be to ensure the safety of other relatives,” Susan Lee, director of the Americas program at AI, said.
The first family member to be slain was Julio Cesar Reyes, whose kidnap-murder led his mother, Josefina Reyes Salazar, on a crusade for justice.
She had openly accused army soldiers of being behind the murder of her son before her own violent death in early 2010.
Seven months later, her brother, Ruben, was gunned down.
The attacks against the Reyes Salazar family continued on Feb. 16, when a group of unidentified assailants carried out a Molotov cocktail attack on the home of Sara Salazar in the Juarez Valley.
The surviving family members, who ended their sit-in protest in Mexico City last Friday and returned to Ciudad Juarez to arrange the funerals of their three relatives, plan to bring their plight to the attention of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
Josefina Reyes Salazar, a former municipal official in the Juarez Valley and social activist for more than 20 years, was murdered on Jan. 3, 2010, while driving to El Sauzal, a town located about 30 minutes from Ciudad Juarez.
She campaigned for more than a decade to get officials to investigate hundreds of unsolved killings of women in the Juarez Valley and was one of the first people to join the fight against a planned nuclear dump in the city.
In the years before her death, Josefina Reyes had participated in protests against the drug-related violence in Ciudad Juarez and alleged human rights violations committed by the army.