The International Press Institute (IPI) today expressed renewed alarm over the state of media freedom in Mexico following the murder of a radio journalist in Guerrero state and a violent attack on another journalist in Quintana Roo within a period of two days.On Saturday morning, radio host Marcela de Jesús Natalia was shot in the head by unknown attackers shortly after leaving the building of Guerrero Radio and Television (RTG), a government-owned indigenous radio station in the town of Ometepec, in the southern state of Guerrero. De Jesús who was also a community activist and worked for a local family aid agency, was rushed to a hospital in Acapulco, where she was later pronounced dead. The motive for the attack was not immediately known.
Two days later, on early Monday morning, an unidentified man threatened and attacked journalist Carlos Barrios as he left the office of news website Aspectos in the town of Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo state. The attacker reportedly sliced into Barrios' ear and warned that the editor of Aspectos, Eduardo Rascón, could be the next target if the website continued to publish articles perceived to be favorable toward Quintana Roo governor Carlos Joaquín González.
De Jesus' killing is the latest in an unabated spate of violence against journalists in Mexico in recent months. At least eight journalists have been murdered in the country in 2017 alone.IPI Director of Press Freedom Programmes Scott Griffen reiterated IPI's alarm at the tide of violence against Mexican journalists in 2017. He urged authorities to fully investigate the latest crimes and bring those responsible to justice.
But Griffen also said that measures implemented by the Mexican federal government in recent years to promote journalist safety, including a federal special prosecutor dedicated to investigating crimes against journalists and a protection mechanism for reporters under threat, needed to be scrutinised for their lack of impact."Mexico claims that it takes the safety of journalists seriously, but its efforts have not yielded any progress in stopping the cycle of violence and impunity," he noted. "The international community cannot turn a blind eye to this intolerable situation and must hold Mexico to account for failing to uphold basic human rights, including journalists' right to life."On May 15, acclaimed investigative journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas was shot dead in broad daylight near the offices of Ríodoce, the weekly publication he founded in 2003, in Culiacán, Sinaloa state. Unidentified assailants ambushed his car, dragged him from the vehicle, and shot him before using the car to make their getaway. Valdez, who was also a correspondent for the daily newspaper La Jornada, reported extensively on drug trafficking and organised crime, and said in several interviews that he and his staff feared for their safety.
Earlier that month, radio host Filiberto Álvarez was shot five times by unidentified gunmen after leaving his evening radio program in the town of Tlaquiltenango, Morelos state, on May 2. The journalist was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.On April 16, the body of freelance reporter and LGBTQ rights activist Juan José Roldan Avila was found with signs of torture in Calpulalpan, Tlaxcala state. The state attorney general's office launched an investigation into the case. LGBTQ advocates called for the murder to be treated as a hate crime.Only two days earlier, veteran journalist Maximino Rodríguez Palacios was shot and killed outside a shopping mall in La Paz, Baja California Sur. Rodríguez, who wrote for news website Colectivo Pericú and covered the police beat and organised crime, was shot as he was parking his car with his wife around noon on April 14.On March 23, prominent journalist Miroslava Breach Velducea was gunned down outside her house in the state of Chihuahua as she was about to take one of her sons to school. Breach reported on organised crime, corruption and politics for La Jornada and other regional and national newspapers. Her killers reportedly left a note with her body that read, in Spanish, "For being a loud-mouth".Four days earlier, on March 19, attackers shot dead Ricardo Monlui Cabrera, editor of Córdoba-based newspaper El Político, in the state of Veracruz. The journalist was leaving a restaurant with his wife and son when unidentified assailants opened fire, killing him instantly.On March 2, journalist Cecilio Pineda Birto was killed in the state of Guerrero when unidentified gunmen approached him on a motorbike and shot him as he was lying in a hammock waiting for his car at a car wash. A journalist and editor for the newspaper La Voz de Tierra Caliente, Pineda specialised in police actions and gang violence in Mexico's Tierra Caliente region.