Home NewsCrime In Memoriam | Journalists killed in Mexico so far in 2022

In Memoriam | Journalists killed in Mexico so far in 2022

by Yucatan Times
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Since last January 10, the number of journalists murdered in Mexico has increased month by month; with days to go before the end of the year, the uncertainty remains as to whether this 2022 will be crowned as the deadliest for freedom of expression in the country.

Until now, 2017 had been the year with the most journalists murdered in relation to their professional activity, with a total of 12, according to data from the organization Artículo 19; but the figure was surpassed this year last August 3, when Ernesto Méndez was murdered in Guanajuato, thus adding up to 15 crimes in 2022.

“As of today there is nothing that makes us think that we are safer working”, declared the Alianza de Medios MX last June 29, when condemning the murder of Antonio de la Cruz, a journalist from Tamaulipas, whose attack also claimed the life of his 23-year-old daughter.

And like this, the Alliance’s position of rejection of the violence to which the profession has been subjected has been clear. “(The already high number of 11 murdered journalists) is unacceptable in a country that presumes to have a strong rule of law”, said about the murders of Yesenia Mollinedo and Johana García in Veracruz, perpetrated at the beginning of May.

For the Alianza de Medios MX, “the combination of judicial harassment with the murders of journalists results in a rarefied climate for the practice of journalism rarely seen in Mexico”, so it calls for “cutting short this circle of violence that seeks to silence critical voices and limit freedom of expression at the convenience of violent interest groups, who want to prevent society from exercising its right to be informed”.

The result of this violence against journalism “is also expressed in zones of silence, because media and reporters decide to censor themselves under covert threats, especially in the certainty of knowing they are defenseless”.

Fredid Román

Director and owner of the newspaper La Realidad, a Chilpancingo, Guerrero, newspaper, was shot and killed on August 22 when he was on board his vehicle in the Progreso neighborhood of the capital of Guerrero.

Román, at 50 years of age, was a well-known journalist in the region where he was born, lived and died. He began as a red note reporter in El Diario, with Rogerio César Armenta, and later migrated to the newspaper Pueblo; he was also a correspondent for Quehacer político, as Román himself recalled in an interview with a local media last February. He was editor of the newspapers Palabra and Expresión Popular, until he finally decided to found his own printed newspaper.

On the day of his murder, witnesses indicated that the journalist had just left a workshop in the area and the murderer was already waiting for him. Hours before, Fredid Román published his last column, which was titled Crimen de Estado sin culpar al jefe, in which he denounced a lukewarm investigation by the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Ayotzinapa case and later broadcast a live video of an act by Governor Evelyn Salgado.

The paramedics who went to the crime scene only confirmed that he no longer had vital signs, so the authorities proceeded to the removal of the body.

The Guerrero Prosecutor’s Office indicated that they are investigating the possible relation of the journalist’s crime with the murder of his son on July 1, for which Román had been demanding justice.

Juan Arjon

The 69 year old journalist from Sonora was missing for a week, from August 9 to 16.

Juanito Arjon, as he was known in networks, was a member of the Group of Independent Communicators and Journalists (GCPI) and had a long career in some media in the border area of San Luis Rio Colorado, a municipality located between the Gran Desierto de Altar and the state of Baja California.

On the seventh day of his disappearance, his body was found on the highway that leads to the town of Luis B. Sanchez, in the north of Sonora, 15 meters from the asphalt.

The cause of death was cranioencephalic trauma due to blunt force trauma, according to the autopsy performed on the journalist’s body and released by the state Attorney General’s Office.

A day after his death was confirmed, the Sonora District Attorney’s Office confirmed that it had seized a car that could be related to the crime: a white Toyota Tacoma, with a theft report from Salinas, California, United States, inside which a large caliber weapon was found.

Ernesto Mendez

It was around 11 p.m. on Tuesday, August 3, when an armed group burst into a bar located in the Vista Hermosa neighborhood, on Ferrocarril Avenue at the corner of Libramiento Sur, in the municipality of San Luis de la Paz, Guanajuato, and shot six people, killing four of them, including the journalist.

Ernesto Mendez was celebrating in the bar of his property, with family and friends, having obtained one of the concessions given for the Northwest Fair, an event organized by Mendez together with other businessmen, according to versions of Zona Franca.

Authorities opened four lines of investigation for the murder, one of them related to his work as a communicator. Méndez collaborated in different local media, among them Periódico Correo, Zona Franca, in addition to being director of the newspaper Tu Voz.

Extortion of his family business was allegedly the cause of the journalist’s murder, according to Ricardo Mejía Berdeja, the federal undersecretary of Security and Citizen Protection, on August 11. Roberto El Borrachito, 22, was indicted as the alleged murderer, as he was considered a criminal target because he was the leader of a gang operating in the northwest of Guanajuato.

Antonio de la Cruz

On the morning of June 29, the reporter for the newspaper Expreso had already left his eldest daughter at work and, on returning home, was about to do the same with Cynthia, the youngest, when he was attacked by hired killers.

In the subdivision Puertas de Tamatán, in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, they shot him first directly at the windshield of his truck, then one of them fired his .40 millimeter caliber weapon at the driver’s door, leaving him dead.

One of the bullets that went through Antonio’s body was embedded in his daughter’s head, who died days later in a hospital in Ciudad Victoria.

De la Cruz was a reporter in several media of the capital and worked for more than 15 years in the newspaper Expreso, he also collaborated for Movimiento Ciudadano and was critical of the current government.

The day before he was killed, Tony, as his family and friends called him, uploaded a press release about the participation of the local congressman for Movimiento Ciudadano, Gustavo Cárdenas Gutiérrez, to whom he had worked for years on communication issues in different public offices.

It also published an informative note on a gang dedicated to the theft of debit cards from senior citizens in Ciudad Victoria; it also denounced the lack of assignment of 600 positions for health workers, the overpriced purchase of medical supplies for the Covid-19 pandemic, millionaire contracts with front companies and alleged acts of corruption.

The mission of the assassins was to end his life, that is clear to the authorities, but two months after the murder of the journalist Antonio de la Cruz, his wife Emelia Martinez and his daughters Paola and Melisa left Tamaulipas because of the defenselessness in which they were left. Since the FGR took over the case, the same day de la Cruz was shot at, there have been no arrests and the progress of the investigation to find the intellectual and material authors of the murders is unknown.

Yesenia Mollinedo and Johana García

The municipalities of Cosoleacaque and Minatitlán looked set to be one of the largest development poles in the state of Veracruz, but instead became the main hotspot of insecurity for journalists in the state, according to reporters.

In Cosoleacaque, on May 9, Yessenia Mollinedo Falconi, director of the newspaper Veraz, and Sheila Johana García Olvera, a reporter for the same newspaper, were murdered.

Mollinedo Falconi had told her mother that she was afraid, that she had received threats by telephone and that suspicious people were memorizing her work routes.

García Olvera, on the other hand, did not study journalism but the profession gave her new opportunities, as the 33-year-old woman was moving away from alcoholism and was getting closer to her three minor children with whom she did not live but enjoyed weekends at the movies, according to relatives of the reporter.

On the morning of May 9, Yesenia was driving a vehicle she had recently taken out of the mechanic’s shop. In a WhatsApp group they reported the seizure of weapons in Minatitlán and the arrest of three people. She asked Sheila to accompany her to cover the news.

Hours later the two returned to Cosoleacaque and parked in an Oxxo in the Cerro Alto neighborhood, where they were intercepted by at least two men who fired at least 16 shots before fleeing on motorcycles. Yesenia died instantly; Johana on the way to the hospital.

A little over a week after the murder of the journalists, the Veracruz Prosecutor’s Office acknowledged that it had mistakenly arrested a student from Xalapa instead of the alleged murderer. The agencies reported that the taco delivery man was the alleged perpetrator of the murder of the journalists. After releasing the innocent man, the investigations have not progressed.

Luis Enrique Ramírez

The murder of the founding director of the news site Fuentes Fidedignas and main columnist for El Debate was discovered on the morning of Thursday, May 5, after the journalist’s body was left in a car south of the Antorchista neighborhood in Culiacán.

Luis Enrique Ramírez forged a career as a journalist for 40 years; he was a reporter for the cultural section of La Jornada in the 90’s, then collaborated for Milenio magazine in the team of Ignacio Rodríguez Reyna, later returning to his native Sinaloa, where he worked as a journalist for El Sol and El Debate. He also collaborated with El Universal, La Jornada and El Financiero, among other media. He also published two books: La muela del juicio (editorial Conaculta) and La ingobernable; encuentros y desencuentros con Elena Garro (editorial Raya en el Agua). Ramírez “was one of the great interviewers and chroniclers of this country,” said Consuelo Sáizar, former head of Conaculta.

The autopsy revealed that the journalist died due to cranioencephalic trauma from blunt force trauma.

On May 27, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador assured that the case was “practically resolved”; a week and a half later, on June 6, the Sinaloa Attorney General’s Office ruled out that the motive for the journalist’s crime was due to his professional activity.

However, it was not until July 21 that the Undersecretary of Security and Citizen Protection, Ricardo Mejía Berdeja, informed that Brysia Carolina “F” was arrested and sent to trial, accused of the crime of concealment by favoring. On August 9, the woman was granted a legal benefit to be tried out of prison.

Armando Linares

The director of the digital media Monitor Michoacán, was shot dead on the afternoon of March 15 in the town of Zitácuaro. The authorities who responded to the report of the gunshots said that the victim was inside his home in a decubitus supine position with a gunshot wound to the right side of his face and without vital signs.

On the day of the crime, around 13:00 hours, two men on board a motorcycle went around the journalist’s street asking for his address. When they arrived, the men pretended to be soccer fans and managed to enter Armando Linares’ home, where they shot him.

The journalist had reported threats against him and, at the end of January, he reported the murder of another journalist and contributor to Monitor Michoacán, Roberto Toledo.

Although a reporter claimed that a man threatened the media and those attending the wake of Linares López, those in the room and the Secretary of Public Security and Citizen Protection (SSyPC), Rosa Icela Rodríguez, denied this version.

Two days after the crime, Ricardo Mejía, Undersecretary of Security, informed that the two possible perpetrators of the journalist’s murder had already been identified. Carlos Gerardo Sánchez Mendoza and Magdiel Urbina Chimal were identified by local authorities as the perpetrators and an accomplice in the murder of the Zitácuaro journalist, thanks to the recovery of security videos in which it can be seen how they went around the journalist’s street until they found his house.

Juan Carlos Muñiz

On the afternoon of March 4, Juan Carlos Muñiz, a police reporter for the website Testigo Minero, was murdered in Fresnillo, Zacatecas. Rigoberto, as he was known, alternated his work as a reporter and cab driver in the municipality.

His body was found inside cab 176, in the Olivos subdivision. “Juan Carlos, like many other journalists in Mexico, had two jobs; highlighting the precarious situation that a large part of the press lives in the country”, highlighted Artículo 19 when investigating the case.

People who knew him describe him as “a calm person, always willing to work, careful about his notes and what he published,” in addition to the fact that he had no conflicts with anyone.

“The work of a journalist in Zacatecas is extremely dangerous. In Fresnillo we leave with fear when we go to cover,” said Ángel Martínez, also a journalist.

Article 19 did not find any record of previous aggressions or threats against the journalist, however, on March 14, the Zacatecas Prosecutor’s Office arrested a man allegedly related to the crime: Emanuel de Jesús “N”, also related to several criminal acts in the municipality of Fresnillo.

The man already had several arrest warrants: one from 2020 for the crimes of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery and criminal association and another from 2021 for the crime of attempted aggravated homicide.

The detainee was sentenced to pre-trial detention and also has other investigations, including the one for the murder of Juan Carlos Muñiz.

Jorge Camero Zazueta

On the night of February 24, the director of El Informador was murdered in the “Spartan” gymnasium, located in the municipality of Empalme, Sonora, after two armed men entered the building and shot Camero Zazueta.

The director of the news portal in Guaymas and Empalme, was shot at least three times; when Red Cross paramedics arrived he no longer had vital signs.

El Choche, as he was always known, started at XEPS radio station in Empalme, then worked at FM-105 (XEBQ) in Guaymas. He created the fanpage El Informativo, which he alternated with transmissions for the digital media Radar Sonora and the radio station Red 93.3. In addition to his media, he had an advertising and perifoneo company.

In September 2021 he had assumed the position of private secretary to Mayor Luis Fuentes Aguilar, but two weeks before he was murdered he had requested a leave of absence from that position.

Two days after the attack that took Camero’s life, the Sonora Attorney General’s Office ruled out that it had anything to do with his activity as a journalist and informed that the deceased had an open investigation file for the crimes of illegal deprivation of liberty and aggravated homicide against Daniel Palafox Suárez, on January 29 and February 4, 2022 respectively.

Heber López Cruz

The director of Noticias Web, a reporter in the port of Salina Cruz, was murdered on February 10 in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region of Oaxaca.

His murder occurred just days after an armed attack on José Ignacio Santiago Martínez, director of Pluma Digital Noticias, who was unharmed.

Heber López was killed inside his recording studio. The Oaxaca State Attorney General’s Office (FGEO) initiated investigations into two people arrested for their probable responsibility in the journalist’s murder.

A day after the murder, the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists of the Ministry of the Interior reported that it implemented protection measures for López Cruz’s family.

The two alleged perpetrators of the journalist’s murder were transferred to the Tanivet prison on February 12 and six days later the Oaxaca State Attorney General’s Office (FGEO) ordered their trial and remanded them in custody while the judge granted two months for the closure of the complementary investigation; however, seven months after the murder, no sentence has been handed down against the accused.

Roberto Toledo

The threats received by Roberto Toledo, a contributor to the Monitor Michoacán website, arrived almost two months before he was murdered, according to Joel Vera Terrazas, deputy director of the website, told Proceso magazine.

Vera Terrazas himself went to the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Attention to Crimes against Freedom of Expression (Fedale) to warn that he and the director of the media outlet, Armando Linares López, had received death threats.

The deputy director of Monitor Michoacán warned that the threats came from officials and politicians linked to former governor Silvano Aureoles Conejo. The names of the state attorney general, Adrián López Solís; the mayor of Zitácuaro, Juan Antonio Ixtláhuac Orihuela; the former PRD gubernatorial candidate, Carlos Herrera Tello; and the local deputy for district 13, Rocío Beamonte Romero, were recorded in the investigation file.

One of the threats was received via Whatsapp, from a person who identified himself as “El Comandante Águila del Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación”, who asked him to stop “shooting” the regional prosecutor, Francisco Herrera.

On Monday, January 31, Roberto Toledo was shot dead in the municipality of Zitácuaro, when three subjects entered his office to shoot the 65-year-old man, who lost his life while being transported to a hospital.

“Exhibiting corrupt governments, corrupt officials and corrupt politicians, today led to the death of one of our colleagues. I cannot speak much, I cannot say much that we are not going to leave things like this,” said Armando Linares, who would be murdered 43 days later.

Lourdes Maldonado

“In Tijuana, reporters are on a thin line in which they can be attacked by the political power as well as by the delinquency that has infiltrated them with hawks, particularly in coverage of criminal acts”, detected journalist Ignacio Alzaga.

Lourdes Maldonado was murdered on the afternoon of Sunday, January 16 in the Santa Fe subdivision of Tijuana, Baja California, despite the fact that she was under the protection of the federal government’s mechanism for the defense of journalists.

The journalist had recently won a labor lawsuit against the PSN company, owned by former governor Jaime Bonilla, for unpaid payroll and other labor issues and was present at the offices of said television company, with a seizure order in her favor.

The ex-governor has been investigated as one of the lines of the case, both by the state prosecutor’s office and by the federal intelligence group, due to the labor dispute between his company and the communicator. But Bonilla describes the murder as “collateral damage” of an alleged campaign against him orchestrated, he says, by “powers that be” including Jorge Hank Rhon.

Maldonado was preparing an investigation into probable acts of corruption by the former state government, as well as the strategy to be followed after the victory in the nine-year labor lawsuit against former Governor Bonilla, whose company Media Sports de México (PSN) was to pay him one million 296,362 pesos.

Despite being registered in the Protection Mechanism, she had no personal escort or permanent police surveillance by the state government, she only had a “panic button” in her house and was intermittently visited by the police.

Seven months after the murder of Lourdes Maldonado, Oscar, her brother, accused that the special prosecutor, Atalo Machado, stopped answering the calls and messages sent to him to try to know the status of the investigation, in spite of the commitment made by the official, in the first days of the investigation, to keep him informed.

Margarito Martinez

On Monday, January 17, in Tijuana, after noon, Margarito Martinez’s wife heard him say: “I’m going to a 5 bravo” (coverage of a person shot), he left his house and three shots were fired.

People close to Margarito told Alianza de Medios MX that the bureaucratic process discouraged him from registering with any of the protection mechanisms for journalists, after he was placed in the criminal crosshairs by the accusation of “facebooker” Ángel Peña, who blamed him for managing the pages Tijuana en Guerra and Quemando Malandros, whose content reveals on social networks images and activities of drug traffickers and criminals, exposing them publicly.

Christian Adán Velázquez, El Cabo 16, identified by authorities as the criminal who allegedly ordered the murder of the photojournalist, is imprisoned along with his accomplices, awaiting trial.

His boss, David Lopez Jimenez, El Cabo 20, operator of a violent cell at the service of the Arellano Felix Cartel (CAF) and Los Chapitos – for whom El Cabo 16 commits crimes – was arrested on August 24. Among other crimes, he is accused of having given the order for the death of Margarito Martínez.

The prosecutor’s investigation indicates that on January 15 of this year, Corporal 16 contacted José Ochoa Díaz, El Huesos, who in turn spoke with Adrián Nicolás Ramos, El Uber, to kill him and videotape the execution.

The motive presented by the prosecutor’s office was for alleged publications by the family of El Cabo 20, “publications in networks” and “publications on Facebook”.

José Luis Gamboa

The first journalist murdered in Mexico this year. On January 10 his body was found lifeless, with stab wounds, in the streets of the Floresta subdivision, located in the port of Veracruz; however, it was only days later that he was identified.

José Luis Gamboa Arena worked for the digital newspaper Inforegio, and his journalistic work consisted of denouncing alleged corruption networks and dealings of governors and politicians of Veracruz, through videos on digital platforms.

He was known for going to a café in the downtown area of the city where he conducted interviews with politicians and officials; he also wrote editorial comments and video columns on his social media accounts.

Since the crime occurred and still in mid-March, the federal government’s investigation pointed to a “violent assault” as the cause of the crime against José Luis Gamboa.

By April 7, the Secretary of Security, Rosa Icela Rodríguez, assured that the possible murderers of the communicator had already been identified and about 20 days later, the Veracruz Prosecutor’s Office reported the arrest of Eduardo “N”, a nephew of José Luis Gamboa.

Two months after this arrest, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador assured that the murder was a family problem and not due to his work as a communicator in Veracruz.

TYT Newsroom

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