Jo Tuckman, longtime The Guardian reporter in Mexico, dies aged 53

Jo Tuckman, who for many years reported for the Guardian in Mexico, has died aged 53.

Jo had been undergoing treatment for cancer since falling ill last year, and died at her home in Mexico City on Thursday afternoon, surrounded by close friends.

“She just had this incredible commitment to Mexico and to Latin America,” said Marion Lloyd, a friend of two decades and travelling partner from “a million reporting trips” around the region.

“She absolutely loved Mexico – and even when she got sick and people said: ‘You should go back to England for medical care,’ she said: ‘No, this is my home.’”

The Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, said: “Jo was a sensitive and tenacious reporter and a much-loved colleague who will be missed by readers around the world.

“She covered many major events in Latin American history – from the Zapatista rebels to the outbreak of Mexico’s drug wars – and she never lost sight of the human side of every story,” Viner added.

Rachel Sieder, a Mexico-based anthropologist and friend, said: “She was a dogged journalist, a good writer and an anthropologist who was endlessly fascinated in everybody’s stories.

“She treated everybody she wrote about – even those she didn’t like – with respect, and she gave people dignity when she wrote about them.”

Will Grant, the BBC correspondent for Mexico, Central America and Cuba, remembered “a vivacious, bright, properly smart woman, who genuinely got Mexico” and whose book, Democracy Interrupted, was essential reading for foreign correspondents arriving in the country.

“She wrote with real humanity, real empathy and understanding for what Mexicans were going through,” Grant said. “She got angry at abuses, of which there are many in Mexico.”

Jo was also a mentor to a generation of young freelance journalists and respected within Mexico for her reporting on politics and human rights.

“As a person she was a delight,” said the Mexican journalist Jenaro Villamil, who remembered dissecting his country’s politics with her over coffees in Mexico City’s picturesque Plaza Río de Janeiro. As a journalist “her background in sociology gave her the ability to see things with much greater depth in Latin America, and of course Mexico, than others could”.

Villamil added: “I always felt that her book … was one of the best sociological texts about Mexico’s failed democratic transition.”

Martin Hodgson, the international editor of Guardian US, said: “Jo was a great friend and brilliant foreign correspondent: she had a deep understanding of her adoptive country but never lost her capacity to be surprised, outraged and enchanted by it.”