Another Journalist shot dead Mexico journalist shot dead in Gulf state of Veracruz Leobardo Vázquez, 48, killed in town of Gutiérrez Zamora Vázquez ran news website in area known for drug cartel activity

Leobardo Vázquez

Association of North American Ethnic Journalists and Writers ( Canada – USA ) condolences death of Leobardo Vázquez Mexican journalist . We call on Mexico police and Government to bring those responsible before court of law.
Another Journalist shot dead Mexico journalist shot dead in Gulf state of Veracruz Leobardo Vázquez, 48, killed in town of Gutiérrez Zamora Vázquez ran news website in area known for drug cartel activity

A Mexican journalist has been shot dead in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, becoming the latest victim in a relentless string of attacks on the country’s press.

Leobardo Vázquez ran an online news outlet called Enlace Informative Regional and previously reported for other media in the region.

He was shot dead on Monday night at the taco stand he operated next to his home in the vanilla-producing municipality of Gutiérrez Zamora, according to a statement by Veracruz state officials.

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Officials have offered no motive for the slaying, though Mexican media reported he has received threats over his reporting on an illegal land “invasion” by squatters.

Vázquez moonlighted at his fast-food stand to make ends meet, while also covering crime and the police in northern Veracruz, an area rife with underworld activity.

Press freedom groups consider the region a “zone of silence”, where the reporters practise self-censorship to stay safe and keep the details of crime and corruption cases vague.

Vázquez was the third Mexican reporter to be killed in 2018. Last year 12 media members were murdered in the country.

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2017 was Mexico’s deadliest year on record, and the murder rate has kept climbing in 2018: in the first two months of the year, Mexico recorded 4,937 homicides, an 18% increase the same period of 2017.

Violence against the media has been especially acute in the state of Veracruz. During the 2010-2016 administration of the governor Javier Duarte – currently in jail on corruption charges – at least 20 media workers were murdered and many more were forced to flee the state.

“The death of Leobardo Vázquez is a clear sign that the conditions for journalists in the state have not improved since Duarte left,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, Mexico representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“Reporters are still badly exposed to violence. Nearly all of the murders of journalists in Veracruz remain unpunished and the impunity incentivises more violence.”

Mexico has implemented some measures to prevent the bloodshed, including a mechanism for protecting journalists under threat and a special prosecutor’s office for investigating the crimes committed against them. But reporters and press freedom groups have complained that the official response has been half-hearted and ineffective.

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Earlier this week, the noble laureate Mario Vargas Llosa provoked outrage by asserting that the targeting of journalists was a reflection of improved press freedoms.

“The fact that more than 100 journalists were murdered is, in grand part, to be blamed on the freedom today, which allows journalists to say things that were not permitted previously. Narcotics trafficking plays an absolutely central part in all of this,” he said in a radio interview.

Many journalists rebuked Vargas Llosa, saying he had failed to consider Mexico’s rampant impunity – and the close connection between organised crime and the country’s politicians.

Article 19, a freedom of expression advocacy organisation, issued a report earlier in March noting that only 8% of the nearly 2,000 aggressions – threats, harassment or attacks – against journalists in Mexico last year could be attributed to organised crime.

Public officials, meanwhile, committed 48% of the aggressions against journalists.

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