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Mexico remains a deadly place for reporters, with 12 killed this year

The number of journalists killed while on the job or in retaliation for their work declined worldwide in 2017, but one country remains increasingly perilous — Mexico.

So far in 2017, 42 journalists worldwide have been killed, compared with 48 a year earlier, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonpartisan group that tracks press freedoms.

Iraq and Syria were the deadliest places for journalists this year, with eight killed in Iraq and seven in Syria. But outside war zones, Mexico is the most dangerous place for journalists.

According to the committee, six Mexican journalists were killed in retaliation for their reporting, often of corrupt government officials or drug cartels. But according to news reports and the group Reporters Without Borders, six additional Mexican journalists died in 2017. The motivation for their slayings remains unclear, but they also often wrote about crime and corruption.

One journalist was shot Tuesday. Many of the 12 were killed in public. Some in front of their own children. Often, they were slain in broad daylight. Two were gunned down the same day.

Courtney Radsch, the committee’s advocacy director, said that Mexico’s leaders lack the political will to stop the violence against journalists and have repeatedly failed to provide the resources necessary to track down and prosecute the people behind the killings. Except in two cases there have been no arrests in this year’s killings.

“The murderers of journalists continue to go free, so it’s open season on Mexican journalists,” Radsch said.

“We hear from Mexican journalists that they are self-censoring, that they’re having to flee their homes and go into exile, and that it just becomes more and more dangerous for journalists in Mexico.”

Here are the 12 Mexican journalists killed this year, in chronological order, with the city and state where they died.


Cecilio Pineda Birto

Killed: March 2

City: Ciudad Altamirano, Guerrero

What he wrote about: Pineda covered crime and corruption through his Facebook page, which has almost 32,000 followers, and also was a freelance writer for newspapers.

How he died: While Pineda was waiting in a hammock at a car wash for his vehicle, at least two armed men on motorcycles shot him about 10 times, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Pineda had been threatened before.


Ricardo Monlui Cabrera

Killed: March 19

City: Yanga, Veracruz

What he wrote about: Monlui, a columnist and editorial director of El Politico newspaper, “often wrote about conflicts between the Veracruz authorities and farmers and workers in the sugar cane industry, one of the region’s main economic activities,” according to Reporters Without Borders.

How he died: Monlui was leaving a restaurant about 10 a.m. with his wife and son when his attackers rode by on a motorcycle, firing three times. One of the bullets hit Monlui in the head.


Miroslava Breach

Killed: March 23

City: Chihuahua City, Chihuahua

What she wrote about: A correspondent for the national newspaper La Jornada, Breach wrote about drug cartels and corruption, among other things.

Shortly before her death, Breach had been threatened for her reporting that alleged links between politicians and organized crime figures.

How she died: Breach, a mother of three, was pulling out of her garage with one of her children in the car when she was shot several times. A sign left at the crime scene said “tattletale.”


Maximino Rodriguez Palacios

Killed: April 14

City: La Paz, Baja California Sur

What he wrote about: At the time of his death, Rodriguez covered politics and crime in a news blog, Pericu Collective. A few days before he was killed, Rodriguez wrote a column that was critical of a local criminal gang.

How he died: Rodriguez and his wife were in the parking lot of a shopping center when he was shot and killed by a group of attackers in a white SUV. Three suspects have been arrested in connection with the killing.


Javier Valdez Cardenas

Killed: May 15

City: Culiacan, Sinaloa

What he wrote about: Valdez was a well-known journalist and author who had written extensively about Mexico’s drug war, corruption and crime. Valdez had spoken openly about the dangers that Mexican journalists faced.

When Breach was killed in March, Valdez tweeted: “Let them kill us all, if that is the death penalty for reporting this hell. No to silence.”

How he died: Shortly after leaving the office of Riodoce, a regional weekly, at about noon, Valdez was dragged out of his car on a busy street and shot at least 12 times.


Jonathan Rodriguez

Killed: May 15

City: Autlan de Navarro, Jalisco

What he wrote about: He covered local news for El Costeno, a weekly newspaper, and his family had previously faced threats.

How he died: Rodriguez and his mother, Sonia Cordova, deputy director of El Costeno, were driving when gunmen opened fire on them, killing Rodriguez and wounding his mother.


Salvador Adame Pardo

Killed: Killed between May 18 and June 14

City: Gabriel Zamora, Michoacan

What he wrote about: Adame, owner and director of 6TV, covered general news and local politics. He was a frequent critic of local officials.

How he died: Gunmen abducted Adame about 8 p.m. May 18, forcing him into the back of a black SUV. His body was found June 14, burned, on the side of a road. Police have arrested two men on suspicion of carrying out Adame’s abduction and killing.


Luciano Rivera Salgado

Killed: July 31

City: Rosarito, Baja California

What he wrote about: A TV reporter and an editor for the news website El Dictamen, he covered crime. “He often criticized the security situation here,” said Mario Rivera, director of CNR TV, where Rivera Salgado had worked for nearly 10 years. “We as a station have been very tough critics.”

How he died: Rivera Salgado was celebrating his 29th birthday when he was shot in the head at 1:40 a.m. while at La Antigua Bar in Rosarito.


Edwin Rivera Paz

Killed: July 9

City: Acayucan, Veracruz

What he wrote about: Rivera was a cameraman who fled Honduras after Igor Padilla, a TV journalist whom Rivera worked with, was killed. Padilla covered crime. Rivera feared he would also be killed.

How he died: Rivera was shot to death, reportedly by two people on a motorcycle.


Candido Rios Vazquez

Killed: Aug. 22

City: Hueyapan de Ocampo, Veracruz

What he wrote about: Rios was a crime reporter for El Diario de Acayucan and wrote about government corruption for years. “The threats were constant,” Rios’ editor, Cecilio Perez Cortes, said.

How he died: Rios was outside a corner store with a former police investigator and a local rancher when the three were killed in a drive-by shooting. In 2013, Rios enrolled in a Mexican government program to protect journalists.


Edgar Daniel Esqueda Castro

Killed: Abducted Oct. 5, found dead Oct. 6

City: San Luis Potosi, San Luis Potosi

What he wrote about: A freelance photographer, Esqueda Castro primarily covered local events and crime stories. He had been threatened and beaten by local police, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

How he died: Armed men broke into his home, claimed they were state investigative police and took him away at gunpoint. He was found dead the next day after being tortured and shot.


Gumaro Perez

Killed: Dec. 19

City: Acayucan, Veracruz

What he wrote about: Perez covered crime for several local news outlets.

How he died: Perez was attending a Christmas party at his son’s elementary school when he was shot and killed. He was enrolled in a state program designed to protect journalists.


©2017 Los Angeles Times

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PHOTO (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194): MEXICO-JOURNALISTS