A Mexican reporter who wrote about violent crime in the central state of Guanajuato was shot dead on Monday, while investigating the reports of human remains left in a plastic bag in the city of Salamanca.
Israel Vázquez Rangel, 31, worked for the online portal El Salmantino and was prepared to air a Facebook Live for the organisation, when he was reportedly shot at least 11 times. Vazquez was taken to hospital and underwent surgery but died from his injuries.
“It was really cowardly … We’re in shock,” a colleague, who declined to be identified told Reuters. The Guanajuato state prosecutor’s office said in a statement that it had assigned a “special team” to investigate the killing
The state governor, Diego Rodriguez, promised on Twitter that they would protect and support the family of the slain journalist.
The discovery of the bodies comes less than two weeks after the remains of 59 individuals were found in mass graves at a property in Salvatierra, which is just over an hour’s drive from Salamanca.
Guanajuato is one of the most active drug cartel battlegrounds in the country and the state that recorded the highest number of murders per year in 2019. The state has been shaken by bloody turf wars between the powerful rival cartels Jalisco New Generation and Santa Rosa de Lima.
Following the murder, various journalist joined the protest in front of City Hall demanding “Justice for Israel".
The killing of the journalist drew a backlash from international press groups, including Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders and the Inter-American Press Association.
“The brazen killing of Israel Vázquez Rangel underscores how Mexico is more dangerous for reporters than even war zones,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ’s Mexico representative. “Authorities must treat this, and all other journalist killings, as an emergency, and spare no effort in holding its perpetrators to account.”
The editor of El Salmantino, Victor Ortega, told CPJ that Vázquez, who worked with them for about three years, mostly covered crime and security in the city and had not reported receiving any threats.
“It’s not clear whether the attack was directed against Israel because of his specifically being a journalist,” Ortega said. “It’s more likely that the men who shot him simply saw him approach the body and attacked him because of that.”
Vázquez is at least the third journalist to be killed in Mexico the past two weeks. On 29 October, TV host Arturo Alba Medina was shot in Ciudad Juárez in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua. His body was discovered inside the car that he was driving and was reportedly shot at least 10 times.
On 2 November, journalist Jesús Alfonso Piñuelas, founder of Zarathustra Press and El Shock de la Noticia was shot dead in Cajeme, in the northern Mexican state of Sonora was murdered while he was driving his motorcycle.
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