Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is worried about a new wave of violence against journalists in Mexico, with two murders in the space of two days in the southern state of Oaxaca. The need for effective government measures to protect journalists and guarantee their safety is imperative.
The latest victim in Oaxaca province was Reinel Martínez Cerqueda, 43, who presented musical programmes for community radio station El Manantial. He was gunned down in the town of Santiago Laollaga on 22 January. Marcos Hernández Bautista, 38, was killed by a shot to the head as he was getting into his car on the outskirts of the town of San Andrés Huaxpaltepec on 21 January. He was a reporter for the newspaper Noticias Voz e Imágen and worked for several radio stations. The Oaxaca police and judicial authorities are investigating both murders but have yet to find any clues likely to lead to the identification of the perpetrators. “The cocktail of violence, corruption and impunity has turned Mexico into a disastrous country for journalism,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America desk. “We yet again call on the Mexican authorities to protect journalists. We also urge them to shed all possible light on these two murders.” According to the families and colleagues of these two victims, their murders were directly linked to their journalistic work. Article 19 Mexico said Hernández had recently told Noticias Voz e Imágen editorial director Ismael Sanmartín Hernández that he was concerned for his safety. “Marcos had expressed fear because in some publications he had touched on political interests and the interests of bosses in the region,” Article 19 quoted Sanmartín as saying. RSF supports Oaxaca ombudsman Arturo Peimbert Calvo’s call for the application of the necessary sanctions in these two cases “in accordance with the law, so that impunity does not encourage further violations of freedom of expression.” Oaxaca and the neighbouring state of Veracruz together constitute the most violent and dangerous region for journalism in Mexico, which is ranked 148th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.