Three journalists murdered in ten days in Mexico
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled by a sudden acceleration in the spiral of violence in Mexico, with three journalists murdered in the space of ten days, bringing the total number of journalists killed this year to eight.
The latest victim was Israel Vázquez Rangel, 31, a journalist who covered crime for El Salamantino, a local online news outlet in Salamanca, in the central state of Guanajuato. He died of his injuries on 9 November, a few hours after being shot by two unidentified men who were probably waiting for him when, acting on a police tip-off, he went to the place where human remains had reportedly just been found.
Jesús Alfonso Piñuelas Montes, 43, a freelance journalist also known as “El Norris,” was gunned down on the evening of 2 November while travelling by motorcycle in Cajeme, a district in Ciudad Obregón regarded as one of the most violent and dangerous places in the entire northwestern state of Sonora.
Piñuelas worked for several regional media including the Televisora del Pacífico TV channel, the Regional de Sonora newspaper and the Agencia ICE news agency. He also had his own online news outlets,Zarathustra Prensa and El Shock de la Noticia, in which he covered general news and crime,
He was also a photographer and, according to the Sonora prosecutor’s office, had worked as a security guard in addition to his journalistic activities and had been preparing to become a deliverer in the fast food sector.
Arturo Alba Medina, 49, a journalist who anchored the main news programme on Canal 6, a TV channel owned by the Multimedios Televisión group in Ciudad Juárez, in the north-central state of Chihuahua, was shot dead by two gunmen as he drove away from the TV studios on the evening of 29 October.
Canal 6 programme director Raymundo Chagoyán told RSF that Alba was “a quiet man who never had any problems with anyone.” He was also the spokesman of the Ciudad Juárez Technology Institute and had previously worked for other local media. In his Canal 6 news programme, he often covered violent crime and local political corruption.
“We urge both the local and federal authorities to shed all possible light on these execution-style murders and to prioritize the hypothesis that the victims were killed in connection with their work as journalists,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America bureau.
“In the states that are hit hardest by corruption and organized crime, journalists are always more vulnerable and exposed to reprisals. The Mexican government needs to take stock of the scale of this violence and take courageous decisions in order to end the persecution of journalists, which has tragic consequences for Mexican society in its entirety.”
Two journalists meanwhile sustained serious gunshot injuries when police used force and opened fire to disperse a feminist demonstration on 9 November in Cancún, in the southern, Caribbean-coast state of Quintana Roo. They were Cecilia Solís of the Diario de Quintana, a regional newspaper, and Roberto Becerril of the news website La Verdad. Two other journalists, Santiago Rodas of the news agency Quadratín and Selene Huidrobo of Sipse TVCUN, were roughed up by police.
The five other journalists murdered this year in Mexico were Julio Valdivia Rodríguez, Pablo Morrugares, Víctor Fernando Álvarez Chávez, Jorge Miguel Armenta Ávalos and Maria Elena Ferral Hernández. At least ten journalists were killed in connection with their work in 2019 in Mexico, making it the world’s deadliest country for the media.
Mexico is ranked 143rd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.