Aged 42, Leobardo Vázquez was gunned down last night outside his home in Gutiérrez Zamora, a municipality in the northern part of the state, which is regarded as the western hemisphere’s most dangerous region for journalists.
Until last year, he worked for La Opinion de Poza Rica, a local newspaper, but he was currently the editor of Enlace Informativo Regional, a Facebook page providing news about the region.
Ana Laura Pérez, the head of the Veracruz State Commission for the Attention and Protection of Journalists (CEAPP), said Vázquez had not contacted the commission to report receiving threats. But colleagues of Vázquez said he had been threatened by local officials and had been about to file a complaint and seek protection.
“With three journalists murdered in Mexico so far this year, the situation is becoming untenable for the Mexican media, especially those in Veracruz,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America bureau. “The local police and judicial authorities must quickly identify those responsible for Leobardo Vázquez’s murder and provide his family with protection.”
In a report published in February 2017, entitled “Veracruz: journalists and the state of fear,” RSF examines the critical situation of journalism in Veracruz and the flaws in Mexico’s mechanisms for protecting journalists in danger, and offers detailed recommendations for improving the situation.
Vázquez was the third journalist to be murdered this year in Mexico, following Pamika Montenegro and Carlos Domínguez Rodríguez.
The producer of El Sillón, a satirical news channel on YouTube in which she made fun of local politicians, Montenegro was shot by two unidentified gunmen in a restaurant in Acapulco, in the southwestern state of Guerrero, on 5 February. Domínguez was stabbed to death in the centre of Nuevo Laredo, in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, on 13 January.
Mexico is ranked 147th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.