Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Mexico: Reporter Gunned Down In Los Zetas Stronghold


Raúl Régulo Garza Quirino, a reporter for the weekly La Última Palabra in Cadereyta, in the northeastern state of Nuevo León, became the first Mexican journalist to be killed in 2012 when he was gunned down after a car chase on 6 January. Garza was also a Cadereyta municipal employee. “We hope the number of Mexican journalists killed in the space of a decade does not reach the grim total of 100 in 2012, an election year,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Mexico could prevent this from happening by taking measures to combat impunity for those responsible for violent crime against journalists. “That was the message that we and the Centre for Journalism and Public Ethics (CEPET) tried to transmit when we gave the families of slain and disappeared journalists a platform in the capital on 10 December. “The current show of good intentions by the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) and its head, Gustavo Salas Chávez, must be rapidly translated into reinforcement of its personnel and clarification of its jurisdiction. If the senate approves the bill that the lower house adopted on 11 November making attacks on freedom of information a federal crime, the FEADLE must have enough resources to handle all these cases.” Garza was driving his car near his home when he found himself being pursued by gunmen in another car. He was gunned down when he tried to seek refuge in a garage owned by relatives. Sixteen impacts from 16 mm bullets were found at the scene. Investigators have so far not suggested any motive for the murder. Located 37 km from Monterrey, the state capital, Cadereyta is home to one of northern Mexico’s biggest oil refineries and is rife with contraband in stolen petroleum products as well as drug trafficking. It is a stronghold of Los Zetas, a paramilitary group that worked for the Gulf Cartel before becoming an independent criminal organization. A total of 38 employees of the state oil company PEMEX have been reported missing in the region in recent months. It was in this area that radio journalist Marco Aurelio Martínez Tirejina was kidnapped and killed in July 2010 in a still unsolved murder. According to the Reporters Without Borders tally, 80 journalists have been killed in the past decade and 14 others have disappeared. Most of these killings have gone unpunished.


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