The director of a news website has been gunned down in northern Mexico, raising the question of whether the country's new administration will begin to tackle the country's plague of violence against journalists.
Jaime Guadalupe Gonzalez Dominguez, who ran the website Ojinaga Noticias, was shot 18 times in the street in Ojinaga municipality, Chihuahua's state, on March 3, with bullets that can pierce bullet-proof vests, reported El Financiero. Attackers stole his camera before escaping in two vehicles, according to the local prosecutor's office. Gonzalez was accompanied by a woman who was apparently unhurt in the attack.
The late journalist's news website posted an announcement of his death, stating that it would likely be the publication's last posting. Later, it was shut down, leaving just a message reading "This site has been suspended...please come back later."
The Juarez City Journalist Association (Asociacion de Periodistas de Ciudad Juarez) said Gonzales was the 18th journalist murdered in Chihuahua since 2000, and that in most cases no one had been arrested for the murders, reported El Diario. The organization has demanded that the government investigate this most recent crime, which is the first journalist homicide case faced by the new administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto.
InSight Crime Analysis
Gonzalez' murder adds to a list of journalist killings that occurred over the course of 2012. Among these were the November murder of a Puebla journalist and a wave of six murders of journalists in spring 2012, with four of these occurring in Veracruz, one in Sonora and one in Morelos. All of these states are among those seriously afflicted by the country's violent drug war. Federal agents responsible for security for Chihuahua newspaper El Siglo de Torreon were also attacked over the course of three days in late February 2013.
InSight Crime has reported on the state's failure to provide protection to members of the press in Mexico, which became the world's most dangerous country to be a journalist under previous President Felipe Calderon. Journalists are often targeted by criminal organizations for publishing damaging information, with many now resorting to self-censorship to protect themselves. Reports vary on the numbers, with the National Human Rights Commission reporting 81 homicides since 2000 as of May 2012 and press freedom advocacy agency Article 19 counting 95 murders since 2006, as of November 2012. As of July 2012, there had only been one prosecution in the cases of 67 journalist murders and 14 disappearances since 2006.
In June 2012 a law providing special protection to human rights activists and journalists was signed by Calderon, following pressure from members of these organizations. However impunity remains widespread. This case will be the first test of President Peña Nieto's commitment to those who stand for freedom of speech, in an administration that has made improving national security a top priority.