Early Monday morning, Israel Vázquez, a crime reporter in the Mexican city of Salamanca, received a tip that a plastic bag of human remains had been dumped at the side of a street. He reached the scene before the police. As he prepared to broadcast on Facebook live, gunmen opened fire from a passing car, and shot him eight times. He died later in the day. He was the third Mexican journalist to be murdered in less than two weeks and the eighth this year, The Guardian reports. Jesús Alfonso Piñuelas, founder of two media outlets in Sonora state, was shot dead on November 2. Arturo Alba Medina, a TV host in Ciudad Juárez was shot on October 29 as he drove through the border city. Press reports say he was struck by 10 bullets.
The string of killings has cemented Mexico’s place as one of the world’s deadliest countries for members of the press. It underscored the risks facing journalists who cover sensitive subjects such as crime, politics and the security forces. “You want to kill a journalist, you can do it without much of a chance that you’ll be caught,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, Mexico representative of the press freedom group the Committee to Protect Journalists. In at least five cases, the journalists’ murders were directly related to their work, Hootsen said. It remains unclear if Piñuelas and Alba’s deaths were linked to their journalism, but such cases are seldom investigated with any rigor, he said. In 2019, Mexico reported the second highest number of journalists’ killings after war-torn Syria, says the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Vázquez, 31, had been a journalist for three years. He was well-regarded by colleagues at the digital news outlet El Salmantino.