Javier Valdez Cárdenas, 50, a well-known veteran journalist who specialized in covering drug trafficking, was gunned down in broad daylight yesterday in Culiacán, the capital of the northwestern state of Sinaloa.
He was the sixth journalist to be killed in Mexico this year (four of them in direct connection with their work). This makes Mexico the world’s deadliest country for the media.
Valdez reported for the national daily La Jornada and the local weekly Río Doce and had worked with Agence France-Presse for more than 10 years. He had also written several books, the latest of which, published last year, was entitled “Narcoperiodismo” (Narco-Journalism).
“We are appalled by this shocking murder and we urge the local and national authorities to identify and arrest those responsible without delay,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America desk.
“This spate of violent attacks has yet again highlighted the urgency of the plight of Mexico’s journalists, especially those covering stories linked to drug trafficking and organized crime, who are systematically targeted. The Mexican government needs to realize the gravity of the situation and react appropriately by quickly reinforcing protection for journalists.”
Seven reporters who were travelling together in two vehicles were attacked by around 100 masked gunmen near Acapetlahuaya, a small town in the southwestern state of Guerrero on 13 May.
The reporters, who work for La Jornada, Vice News, Hispano Post, Quadratin, Imagen TV and Bajo Palabra, were on their way back from covering a local police operation in San Miguel Totolapán against a criminal gang active in the area.
After forcing their vehicles to stop, the gunmen threatened to kill the reporters and then took all of their equipment before letting them continue on their way a few minutes later.
Mexico is ranked 147th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index. In a report published in February, entitled “Veracruz: journalists and the state of fear,” RSF proposed a series of recommendations to the federal and local authorities for ending the spiral of violence.