Renowned Mexican journalist Manuel Buendía was gunned down in the street outside his office in Mexico City on 30th May 1984.


Netflix’s new documentary Private Network, available from Wednesday 14th July, looks at his career, which included investigations into drug trafficking, the Mexican mafia and even the CIA, and attempts to uncover who killed him, and why.

Who was Manuel Buendía?

Manuel Buendía Tellezgiron was a Mexican investigative journalist based in Mexico City.

Born in 1926, he began his journalism career writing for La Nación in 1949, and it was while he was working there that he met his wife, Dolores, who was the magazine’s secretary.

Buendía later worked as an editor, political columnist and crime reporter for the newspaper La Prensa, and became the paper’s editor in chief in 1960. He continued to write a daily column for the paper entitled Red Privada (Private Network), which touched on controversial subjects including organised crime.

He continued the column in Mexico’s Excelsior newspaper, investigating alleged covert operations of the CIA in Mexico, corrupt government officials and union chiefs, drug trafficking and other crimes.

Regularly receiving death threats due to his exposés, Buendía was known to carry a pistol with him at all times.

What is the true story behind Private Network: Who Killed Manuel Buendía?

Private Network tells the story of Manuel’s investigations, and looks at who would have had most to gain by killing him.

According to reports, the 58-year-old journalist left his office in the Colonia Juárez area of Mexico City at around 6.30pm on the evening of 30th May, 1984. On the way to his car, a man wearing jeans, a black jacket and a baseball cap violently grabbed him from behind and then shot him five times.

The assailant fled on a motorcycle with another man, according to witnesses. Among those to arrive on the scene following the murder was José Antonio Zorrilla Perez, the head of the Federal Security Directorate (Mexico’s intelligence agency) who had been a frequent source for Buendía’s investigations.

Who killed Manuel Buendía?

The investigation into Manuel Buendía’s death took five years, and in 1989 Zorrilla Perez was charged with planning the murder, along with another Federal Security Directorate (DFS) agent, Juan Rafael Moro Ávila.

Three more DFS agents were arrested, while José Luis Ochoa Alonso, who was widely thought to be the gunman, was found dead before he could be investigated.

Moro Ávila was sentenced to 25 years, while Zorrilla Perez received a sentence of 35 years in prison. Both have since been released (Moro in 2009 and Zorilla in 2013) and the investigation into Buendía’s murder was closed by the government. However, many Mexican journalists believe that there are still people who were involved in his death who remain at large.

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