News

August 13, 2014 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Crime reporter gunned down outside his home in Oaxaca state


Newspaper reporter Octavio Rojas was gunned down on 11 August outside his home in San José Cosolapa, a town in the north of Oaxaca state that is plagued by organized crime and has suffered recent post-election conflicts. Rojas covered crime in his town for El Buen Tono, a daily newspaper based in Córdoba, in the neighbouring state of Veracruz. Witnesses said a man pretending to be interested in buying his car shot him four times and then left without saying a word. Contacted by Reporters Without Borders, colleagues at El Buen Tono said his murder may have been linked to a story he wrote for the 9 August issue about a military operation against a criminal gang known as the “Chupaductos.” The story mentioned the possiblity that the municipal police chief, who became a fugitive from justice a few days ago, may have been a member of the gang. Rojas had also been the town hall’s press spokesman for the past few months. “We call on the federal authorities to take over this murder investigation,” said Camille Soulier, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas desk. “When Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire visited Mexico in April, interior secretary Miguel Osorio reiterated the government’s ‘full and complete determination’ to overhaul the federal mechanism for protecting journalists, in order to make their safety a priority. Nearly five months later, we have seen no changes and the number of victims continues to grow.” El Buen Tono reported in April that it had been the target of threats. An armed group set fire to its premises in 2011. Neither the investigation into the threats nor the investigation into the arson attack yielded any results. The special federal prosecutor’s office for crimes against freedom of expression announced in 2013 that it was not competent to investigate the arson attack and transferred the case to the Veracruz state prosecutor’s office. Both Veracruz and Oaxaca are notorious for high crime rates attributable to drug cartel activity and local government corruption. Rojas is the fifth journalist to be murdered this year in Mexico, which is staying true to its reputation as Latin America’s deadliest country for media personnel. Just two weeks ago, on 31 July, community radio journalist Indalecio Benítez narrowly survived an ambush in which his 12-year-old son was shot dead. Mexico is ranked 152nd out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.