The latest death of a reporter in Mexico, who was gunned down in broad daylight in the state of Puebla this week, highlights the incredible risks faced by journalists in the country and the difficulty in finding the motives that led to their murders.
On November 14, Adrian Silva Moreno was killed by three unknown gunmen as he returned from reporting on a story, according to El Universal. A 27-year-old former municipal police officer who was accompanying Silva was also killed. Silva had just finished covering a military raid on a warehouse allegedly filled with stolen fuel.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), just minutes before his death, Silva called a fellow journalist to tell her that he had just witnessed a shootout between the military and gunmen at a roadblock. It is unclear whether this shootout was connected to the military raid in the warehouse. Silva then added that he had found “something very important” while reporting on the fuel theft story.
Criminal groups are known to steal fuel from the pipelines of national oil company Pemex, and resell it to local gasoline vendors.
Silva was a freelance reporter for various local media outlets, and also covered the crime beat for the online news and radio website Global Mexico. His murder marks the first time a journalist has been killed by an armed group in Puebla, according to CNN Mexico.
InSight Crime Analysis
Over the course of President Felipe Calderon’s six-year term, which ends in two weeks, Mexico has become the most dangerous country in Latin America for journalists. Article 19, a press freedom advocacy organization, has compiled a map of threats and violence against the Mexican press (see below), and counts 95 journalists murdered since 2006. The frequent attacks have stifled press freedom in the country, and fear of reprisals either from criminal groups or corrupt officials have forced many media outlets to engage in self-censorship.
While Mexico did pass the so-called Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists in June, making violence against journalists a federal crime, a climate of widespread impunity remains. As of August, a special government investigative body set up to prosecute crimes against journalists had yet to obtain a single conviction. More recently, the official investigation into the murder of journalist Regina Martinez Perez, who was killed in Veracruz while working for the muckraker magazine Proceso, raised questions, as officials have not yet acknowledged the fact that Martinez may have been killed due to her extensive reporting on organized crime and police corruption.