A journalist who founded a community radio station in an indigenous region in southern Mexico was shot dead, the fourth reporter murdered in the country this year, officials said on Friday May 3.
Telesforo Santiago Enriquez was attacked by gunmen late Thursday May 2 in the town of Juchitan, Oaxaca state, where he founded the radio station El Cafetal.
He had recently received threats in an on-air phone call during his programme, in which he was known for reporting on corruption by local authorities, his niece told Mexican radio network Formula.
“On the radio waves, Santiago Enriquez expressed his analysis and criticism of the government and recently publicly denounced the municipal authorities for alleged diversion of resources,” the National Human Rights Commission, Mexico’s ombudsman’s office, said in a statement.
Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists: more than 100 have been murdered in the country since 2000, amid a wave of violence linked to drug trafficking and political corruption.
‘They shot him in the mouth and heart’
Watchdog group Reporters Without Borders ranks the country as the third-most-dangerous in the world for the press, after war-torn Afghanistan and Syria.
“This latest murder is a reminder of how dangerous it is to practice journalism in Mexico,” the group’s Latin America director, Emmanuel Colombie, said in a statement.
Santiago Enriquez’s niece, Aida Valencia, said she believed her uncle was killed in retaliation for his work as a journalist.
“They shot him in the mouth and heart,” she said.
Santiago Enriquez was also a school teacher, and was known for his work to preserve the region’s indigenous languages and traditions, she said.
The murder was confirmed on World Press Freedom Day, when journalists in Mexico typically hold protests against the dangers they face for doing their jobs.
“It is especially devastating that an indigenous radio host was killed on the eve of the World Freedom of the Press day,” said Jan Jarab, a representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico.