While president Andrés Manuel López Obrador keeps saying that his government is fighting corruption and organized crime, two journalists were murdered in Mexico in just one week.
LATAM JOURNALISM REIVEW (January 17th, 2022).- Independent photojournalist Margarito Martínez was shot Monday in the border city of Tijuana, the same day the murder of another journalist in the state of Veracruz was confirmed.
Martínez, who worked as a police photographer for various national and international media and was registered with the state mechanism for the protection of journalists, was shot outside his home.
According to the state prosecutor’s office in a statement, he had a gunshot wound to the head.
The prosecution offered no further information about the attack, but the Zeta Seminar, one of the media for which Martínez worked, indicated that witnesses indicated that one of the photographer’s neighbors, who was consuming intoxicating drinks, was the one who apparently fired the shot, and that the authorities are investigating whether it could have been due to a dispute between them.
About twenty of his colleagues went to his home, cordoned off by the security forces, shortly after hearing the news.
Alejandra Guerra, a friend and colleague of the deceased, said that a month ago Martínez had an altercation with a former police officer, who now acts as a supposed communicator, who accused him of being the editor of two Facebook pages dedicated to the publication of crimes.
As a result of this incident, the association “Yes I am a journalist”, which brings together several communicators from Tijuana, expressed its solidarity with Martínez, asked the authorities for security for him and emphasized in a statement that the accusations against the photographer were false.
Days before the murder, the state authorities had activated the protection mechanism and gave him a telephone number to call if he was at risk, said Sonia de Anda, a member of the association.
“It gives a lot of impotence, it gives a lot of courage that the mechanism does not have a true effectiveness; that journalists warn about their fears and it does us no good, because they just give us a phone number to call,” lamented Anda, one of the reporters who went to the scene as soon as she heard the news.
The communicator added that Martínez had requested protection because “he was afraid that criminal groups would point him out as being responsible for those publications.”
Jan-Albert Hootsen, representative in Mexico of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ, for its acronym in English), indicated that in the federal mechanism for journalists and human rights defenders “they did know about his case, but they never incorporated it” to your protection system.
Martínez, 49, has been practicing photojournalism for more than two decades. From Tijuana, a city with strong organized crime activity on the border with California, he was a producer and collaborator for some national and international media, as well as local media, some as prestigious as Zeta Weekly, a research journal.
Just hours before his murder, the murder of the Mexican communicator José Luis Gamboa, who died after being attacked with a knife during an alleged assault in Veracruz, a state with a coastline on the Gulf of Mexico, had been confirmed.
Gamboa, who worked as director of the digital newspaper Inforegio, was found badly injured on a street in the port of Veracruz after an alleged assault and was taken to a hospital, where he died on January 10, local media reported.
Condemning the incident, CPJ said on its Twitter account that Gamboa’s body was located last week, but that it was not identified until January 14.
Both CPJ and the activist group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called on authorities to fully investigate both killings.
“Gamboa had denounced and strongly criticized local authorities for their relationship with organized crime,” said RSF, asking that his journalistic work not be ruled out as a presumed motive for the crime.
Mexico is the most violent country in the Western Hemisphere for journalists, according to CPJ, a New York-based nongovernmental press protection organization.
Journalists and human rights defenders have not been able to escape the crisis in terms of these rights that Mexico faces, where there is impunity of more than 90% in murder cases, as recognized in December by the Undersecretary for Human Rights, Population and Migration of the Ministry of the Interior, Alejandro Encinas.