December 2, 2023

A journalist was among four people killed inside a bar in central Mexico, becoming at least the 13th media worker killed in the country this year.

San Luis de la Paz Mayor Luis Sanchez said Ernesto Mendez, director of the news website Tu Voz, or Your Voice, was with four other men when they were attacked. The fifth person was seriously injured and taken to hospital, he said.

Guanajuato Governor Diego Rodriguez Vallejo “strongly condemned” the killings on Tuesday night via Twitter Wednesday.

Sanchez said it is unknown at this point if the attack is related to Mendez’s journalism work, his role as a local business representative in planning an upcoming exhibition or something else.

Press freedom group Article 19 called on the government to offer protection to Méndez’s colleagues and relatives.

Méndez had also worked until three years ago at the news website Zona Franca, according to its director Carmen Martínez.

Zona Franca said he had received threats in the past, Agence France-Presse reported. He said he was celebrating with family and friends when a bar owned by his family was attacked.

It was not immediately clear whether Méndez had enrolled in the federal government’s protection program for journalists and human rights defenders under threat.

While organized crime is often implicated in journalist murders, small-town officials or politicians with political or criminal motivations are also often suspects. Journalists who run small news agencies inside Mexico are easy targets.

Guanajuato, a booming industrial region, has become one of Mexico’s most violent states due to wars between rival gangs fighting for control of drug and stolen fuel routes.

More Mexican journalists killed in 2022

In June, journalist Antonio de la Cruz was shot to death in northeastern Mexico as he was leaving his home with his 23-year-old daughter. Of the daughter later died from injuries sustained in the attack that killed her father

In May, two colleagues at a news website were shot to death in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz. The Veracruz Prosecutor’s Office said it was investigating his murders Yessenia Mollinedo Falconi and Sheila Johana García Oliverathe director and a reporter, respectively, of the online news site El Veraz in Cosoleacaque.

In March, prosecutors in the western state of Michoacan told the reporter Armando Linares shot to death in a house in the city of Zittacuaro. His killing came six weeks after that of a colleague, Roberto Toledo, from the same outlet, Monitor Michoacan. It was Linares who announced Toledo’s death on January 31 in a video posted on social media.

In early March, gunmen killed Juan Carlos Muñiz, who was covering crime for the online news site Testigo Minero in Zacatecas state.

Jorge Camero, the director of an online news site who was until recently a municipal official in the northern state of Sonora, was killed in late February.

In early February, Heber Lopezdirector of the online news website Noticias Web, was shot to death in the southern state of Oaxaca.

Journalist Lourdes Maldonado López was found shot to death in her car in Tijuana on January 23. In a press conference in 2019, Maldonado Lopez told the president of Mexico that she feared for her life.

Journalist Jose Luis Gamboa was killed in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz on January 10

Crime photographer Margarito Martinez was murdered outside his home in Tijuana on January 17. Guillermo Arias, whose photographs chronicle life and death on the streets of Tijuana, worked with Martinez for many years.

He recalled the painful experience of covering the murder of his journalist friend and colleague.

“His daughter arrived and asked me not to take pictures of her dad’s body,” Arias told CBS News.

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