News website editor Jaime González Domínguez’s murder nine days ago in the northern state of Chihuahua has been followed by other setbacks to the media in Chihuahua and the neighbouring state of Coahuila.
Zócalo, one of Coahuila’s leading dailies, announced on 11 March, four days after being the target of threats, that it would no long cover news related to organized crime in order to protect the lives of its employees.
In an operation apparently orchestrated by organized crime groups, dozens of banners were hung in the streets of towns in Coahuila on 7 and 8 March threatening Zócalo group CEO Francisco Juaristi with death.
In response, Coahuila state interior minister Armando Luna Canales announced that measures had been taken to protect the newspaper, which is based in Saltillo, the state capital.
While welcoming this gesture by Coahuila’s authorities, Reporters Without Borders wonders how effective the measures will be. Police were stationed outside the newspaper El Siglo de Torreón in Torreón (Coahuila) after five of its employees were abducted on 7 February, but that did not stop armed attacks on the building on 25, 26 and 27 February.
Reporters Without Borders also calls on the authorities to shed light on the death of Víctor Javier Campos, an employee of El Diario, a newspaper based in Ciudad Juárez (Chihuahua) that was the target of an attack on 6 March.
After being missing for two days, he was found hanged in the bathroom of a hotel in Agua Prieta, in the neighbouring state of Sonora, on 9 March. There was no apparent sign of violence and it may have been a suicide, but murder should not be ruled out.
Meanwhile, new information has emerged supporting the theory that OjinagaNoticias website editor Jaime González Domínguez was killed in connection with his work. He had reportedly received repeated written threats from persons demanding that he ignore certain subjects. As result, he had been considering selling the website and moving to Mazatlán (Sinaloa).
06.03.2013 - Border town news website decides to close after editor shot dead
Reporters Without Borders urges the Mexican authorities to quickly investigate local news website journalist Jaime Guadalupe González Domínguez’s murder on 3 March in Ojinaga, a small town on the US border in the northern state of Chihuahua.
The Chihuahua state prosecutor’s office said González was driving home when gunmen stopped him at an intersection at around 6:30 p.m., shot him 18 times with large-calibre firearms and took his camera.
According to the newspaper La Jornada, the camera contained photos he had taken of a member of a criminal gang. A woman accompanying him in his car was shocked but unhurt.
Aged 38 and the father of two girls, González was the editor of the OjinagaNoticias news website and at the same time was one of its reporters.
OjinagaNoticias posted a note yesterday reporting that González had been killed, deploring “this attack on journalism” and announcing that the note would “very probably” be the last thing the site published.
Sources later told Reporters Without Borders that journalists working for OjinagaNoticias decided at midday yesterday to suspend all activities for fear they could be the targets of similar attacks.
Among the last stories posted on the site, which covered various kinds of news, were two about the arrests of racketeers and recent murders in the town.
Reporters Without Borders is deeply concerned about this latest attack on freedom of information, which bears the hallmarks of organized crime. Mexico seems to be spiralling down into more and more violence against journalists and netizens, which is carried out with complete impunity
While various Mexican news media have stopped covering drug trafficking because they have decided it is too dangerous, the closure of a news outlet because of violence is rare and is very disturbing.
Less than 72 hours after this murder, medias of the state of Chihuahua paid the price for the violence once again. In Ciudad Juárez, the newspaper El Diario and the TV station Canal 44 were attacked on the 6th of March, at about 1 a.m. They were shot respectively 7 and 10 times with large-calibre firearms.
The Journalists Network of Juárez expressed its indignation face to such attacks, denouncing the incapacity of the authorities to make the rule of law respected in Mexico.