Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mexican police investigate death of young AP reporter intern Armando Montano

Aspiring journalist may have died in freak accident

Authorities in Mexico City are continuing their investigation into the death of a young Associated Press intern, whose body was found in an elevator shaft Saturday, June 30.

Armando Montano, a Colorado Springs resident, was 22.

Montano had just graduated from Grinnell Colleged with a bachelor's degree in Latin American studies, according to published news accounts. He was a native Spanish speaker, and had arrived in Mexico City in early June for a summer internship. He planned to pursue a master's degree in journalism at the University of Barcelona.

According to one report, investigators believe Montano was killed when his clothes got stuck in the cogs of the elevator, trapping him underneath. He was not on duty when he died. The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City is monitoring the case closely.

An article in this morning's European gay press describes Montano as an "openly gay apprentice journalist," who was a professional "standout." The Miami Herald did the same, noting that Montano was a member of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA). Neither suggested that his sexual orientation was linked to his death.

Nor is there any indication that Montano's death was the result of drug cartel or organized crime activity. More than 85 reporters have disappeared or been murdered in Mexico while reporting on the country's drug war. Three weeks ago a crime beat editor for the Milenio network was kidnapped and executed in Veracruz, one of the most violent regions in the nation.

The Associated Press said that one of the stories Montano had worked on as an intern was last week's brutal execution of three Federal Police officers in the Mexico City International Airport. Their assailants were fellow agents who were working with an international drug smuggling ring. Mexico has offered a $5 million peso reward for information leading to the arrest of the men, who remain at large.

In addition to Colorado, Montano had lived in Costa Rica and Argentina. He is survived by his parents, both of whom are college professors.

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