The body of the noted Mexican journalist Víctor Báez Chino was found on 14 June in the centre of Xalapa, the capital of Veracruz state, the day after he was kidnapped outside his office. Baez, who was well known locally and nationally, covered the crime beat for El Portal de Veracruz, a local edition of the weekly Milenio, and ran the crime reporters’ network Reporteros Policíacos.
Veracruz state, listed by Reporters Without Borders among the most dangerous places in the world for those working in the media, had already seen three journalists killed in the preceding two months.
Nine have been killed — and another has gone missing — since the inauguration of the governor Javier Duarte in 2010. A dozen others have fled into exile. In the country as a whole, 85 journalists have been murdered and 15 have disappeared in a decade.
“Apart from the demands we express to local and federal authorities to resolve this case, we ask members of the G20 meeting in Mexico on 18 and 19 June to take up the matter of the host country’s non-compliance with basic rights and freedoms over the past six years,” Reporters without Borders said
“The federal government’s disastrous campaign against the drugs trade is one of the mains reasons for this. The subject should not be overlooked at the G20 talks in Los Cabos, or in the run-up to the federal elections on 1 July.”
The account of Baez’s kidnapping given by the Veracruz state government was corroborated to Reporters Without Borders by the management of Milenio El Portal de Veracruz. The Public Security Secretariat was told of his abduction during the night of 13 June. As he left his office, he was seized by three armed men and forced into a grey van.
Inquiries, carried out as part of the “Safe Veracruz” campaign, came to an abrupt end early on 14 June when the journalist’s body was found near the editorial offices of two newspapers, Oye Veracruz and Gráfico de Xalapa. The state public prosecutor disclosed that a message signed by the feared criminal syndicate Los Zetas had been found near the body, which said: “This is what happens to those who betray us and try to be clever.” Colleagues of the dead journalist said no prior threats had been received.
The case, like earlier ones, is being investigated by the federal justice department and the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE). It is also a test for new legislation making attacks on journalists a federal crime.
In addition, the Veracruz state government has announced that special measures to protect journalists will take effect on 20 June, one year to the day after the murder of the editor and columnist Miguel Ángel López Velasco and his wife and son.