Mexican journalist is slain south of Mexico City, spurring outrage among colleagues

Reporters on Saturday demanded a transparent investigation into the killing of journalist Roberto Figueroa and vented anger over the dangers that reporters face in Mexico.
Morelos, Mexico city street.
Posted at 10:25 PM, Apr 27, 2024

Mexican journalists held a vigil and protest Saturday a day after one of their colleagues was slain in the southern state of Morelos.

They demanded a transparent investigation into the case and vented anger over the dangers news workers face in Mexico, which is one of the world's deadliest countries for journalists.

Dozens joined in the demonstration over the killing of Roberto Figueroa, who covered local politics and gained a social media following through satirical videos. After disappearing Friday morning, he was found dead inside a car in his hometown of Huitzilac in Morelos, a state south of Mexico City where drug-fueled violence runs rampant.

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He was the first journalist to be killed this year in Mexico, which is the most dangerous country for journalists in the Western Hemisphere and has the highest number of missing journalists in the world, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a press freedom watchdog.

Mexican prosecutors promised a serious investigation, and the Morelos state government strongly condemned the killing.

But in a country where press activists say pervasive corruption and impunity long have endangered reporters, Figueroa's colleagues carrying signs saying “Investigation now!” and chanting outside government offices in Morelos said they were losing patience with authorities.

“Neither the state government nor the attorney general do anything to stop the crimes that are multiplying,” Jaime Luis Brito, a correspondent for left-wing magazine Proceso wrote in a statement of protest. “No one in Morelos is safe. ... Every day we count victims.”

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Mexican media said Figueroa was abducted by gunmen after taking his daughters to school in in Huitzilac, which is about 70 kilometers (43 miles) from Mexico City. The kidnappers called his family demanding a ransom in exchange for his life, but he was killed even though Figueroa's wife delivered the payment, the reports said.

Police discovered Figueroa’s body along a dirt road Friday night. Prosecutors declined to discuss details of the case or speculate on who killed him and why.

Media workers are regularly targeted in Mexico, often in direct reprisal for their work covering topics like corruption and the country's notoriously violent drug traffickers.

Figueroa focused his reporting in recent months on the upcoming Mexican elections. His colleagues described him as critical of governance in Morelos.

Since 2000, 141 Mexican journalists and other media workers have been slain, at least 61 of them in apparent retaliation for their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists says. All but a handful of the killings and abductions remain unsolved.

“Impunity is the norm in crimes against the press,” the group said in its report on Mexico last month.