RSF has been told that Romero received a phone call at around 5 a.m. today urging him to go at once to a nearby bar called La Gota to cover an important event. His lifeless body was found a few meters from the bar an hour later. He had been badly beaten and then shot in the head.
A freelance crime and court reporter, correspondent for the regional daily Quintana Roo Hoy, who had founded a local news page on Facebook called “Ocurrió Aquí,” Romero had often received death threats in connection with his reporting.
In August 2018, after the murders of two other journalists in Playa del Carmen – Rubén Pat and José Guadalupe Chan Dzib of Semanario Playa News (an online weekly) – Romero requested protection from the Federal Mechanism for Protecting Journalists, which gave him a “panic button” and four police bodyguards who followed him whenever he went out.
But he was not being escorted at the time of his murder. Rubén Pat was also receiving protection from the Federal Mechanism when he was killed.
“The Quintana Roo authorities must quickly identify the perpetrators and instigators of this shocking execution-style murder and bring them to justice,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America bureau.
“Francisco Romero Díaz is the fifth journalist to be murdered this year in Mexico. The government must take bold decisions and completely overhaul the Federal Mechanism for Protecting Journalists, whose effectiveness is constantly being called into question.”
The other journalists murdered this year in Mexico were Telésforo Santiago Enríquez, Jesús Eugenio Ramos Rodríguez, Rafael Murúa Manríquez and Santiago Barroso. Romero’s death means that Mexico is now the world’s deadliest country for journalists.
Mexico is ranked 144th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.