Mexico: Reporter becomes 12th journalist killed this year in one of world’s most dangerous places for media

·3 min read

A reporter was shot dead in Mexico’s violent northeastern region, making it the 12th killing this year so far in a series of unprecendent attacks that has made the country one of the most dangerous places for the media in the world.

Antonio de la Cruz, 47, was shot on Wednesday at the door of his house in Tamaulipas state capital Ciudad Victoria. He had been heading out with his 23-year-old daughter, who sustained serious injuries in the attack.

Local journalists who cover crime and corruption are constantly under threats in Tamaulipas, which shares a border with the US and where violent drug cartels operate out of due to lucrative smuggling routes.

Mr De La Cruz worked as a reporter for the local newspaper Expreso for almost three decades, his employer said. The newspaper covered city-based news, where Mr De La Cruz reported on rural and social topics such as water shortages.

His killing was condemned by the Movimiento Ciudadano political party and its local deputy, Gustavo Cardenas Gutiérrez, who were part of his reporting beat as well.

Mr De la Cruz was “very aware of the reality of Tamaulipas, very brave,” Miguel Domínguez, the newspaper’s director, told Milenio Televisión. “He never expressed any concern to us,” Mr Domínguez said.

The newspaper has been targeted multiple times in the past for its coverage of cartel-related violence in the city. In 2012, a car bomb exploded in front of the newspaper’s building and in 2018 a cooler with a human head inside was left at the office with a warning.

Violence against the Mexican press has surged drastically during president Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s rule, making 2022 the deadliest year for journalists in the country.

Mexico ranks at 127 out of 180 countries in media watchdog Reporters Without Borders’s 2022 Press Freedom index.

In a ranking of the world’s 50 most violent cities published by Mexico’s Citizens’ Council for Public Security for 2017, Ciudad Victoria ranked fifth, with 84.67 homicides per 100,000 residents.

Francisco Garcia Cabeza de Vaca, the governor of Tamaulipas, vowed to initiate an investigation: “We’re not going to stop until we find those responsible, and we’re going to punish them with the full weight of the law.”

The Tamaulipas attorney general’s office said in a statement that it had opened an investigation into the shooting and that police are collecting evidence to find the gunmen.

The president’s spokesperson Jesus Ramirez Cuevas also tweeted about the killing.

“We must not allow more attacks on journalists and activists. These crimes will not go unpunished,” he tweeted in Spanish.