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Will we ever know who killed Atilano Roman Tirado?

Whoever they were, they marched into the offices at radio Fiesta Mexicana in Mazatlan, in the state of Sinaloa, and demanded to know where they could find Atilano Roman Tirado. He was the host of a weekly show at the station, speaking live on the air at the moment. The receptionist explained that he was available if they waited, but they were in a rush.

“They pushed open the door and forced their way in to the studios,” said one witness, and then they shot Tirado in the head as he spoke. Listeners could hear the gunshot and then a co-worker saying “Oh no, he killed him, he killed him.”

Tirado was a leader of a coalition of hundrds of families asking for compensation after losing their homes to the Picachos dam. He was a harsh critic of the government. His program was titled ‘Asi es mi Tierra’ – This is How My Land Is.

This is how grassroots radio hosts are treated too often in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America. In April there was the tragic news of the murder of Honduran journalist Carlos Mejia Orellana, marketing manager of Radio Progreso in the north of that troubled country. A month earlier in Southern Veracruz another Mexican radio activist, Alma Delia Olivares, was arrested earlier for trying to launch a community radio station. The charges included “audio pollution” and “illegal use of the nation’s good.” At least she wasn’t killed, so far as we know.

We can find no follow up on Orellana or Olivares. Officials say they will investigate the Tirado murder. They always say that. We hope that this time it is true.

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