Netizen María del Rosario Fuentes Rubio was kidnapped by armed men on 15 October in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas. A picture of her dead body appeared on her Twitter account the next day.
Fuentes Rubio was kidnapped as she left the Tierra Santa clinic in Reynosa, where she worked as a doctor.
The photo of her body that appeared on Twitter was followed by a series of messages, including “Shut down your accounts, do not risk your families’ lives as I have done. I ask your forgiveness.”
For several months, Fuentes Rubio, under the pseudonym “Felina,” had been contributing via the Twitter account @Miut3 to the Valor por Tamaulipas citizen information service. It focuses on violence and organized crime activities in the state. Fuentes Rubio’s family left the country on 16 October, after filing a formal complaint.
“Reporters Without Borders is shocked by the murder of María del Rosario Fuentes Rubio and urges the government to investigate thoroughly to identify those responsible as quickly as possible,” said Virginie Dangles, the organization’s deputy programme director. “Organized crime groups’ terror campaigns against netizens are unfortunately not new in Mexico. The fight against impunity is the only way to protect the citizens who risk their lives to provide information on the violence afflicting the country.”
In February 2013, an organized crime group distributed leaflets in the region that announced a $45,000 reward to anyone who provided information on the identity of the Valor por Tamaulipas administrator. The information network’s existence springs from the work of Mexican netizens. Given the self-censorship by some traditional media who fear reprisals, the netizens have taken to the web and to social media, such as Valor por Tamaulipas, to inform citizens about violent incidents.
In 2011, four netizens were murdered in Tamaulipas for having reported on narcotraffickers’ activities. The murders included that of María Elizabeth Macias, an influential blogger found decapitated on 24 September 2011 in Nuevo Laredo, a crime for which gangsters claimed responsibility. Her killing unfortunately reflected the climate of extreme tension in regions reeling from the effects of drug trafficking.
More recently, a blogger known on Twitter as @MrCruzStar, a major contributor to the #Reynosafollow network who frequently reports information involving organized crime, said on 21 July that he was being targeted by a campaign of slander and threats on social media.
Mexico, ranked 152nd of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders 2014 world press freedom index, is one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists.