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Journalist couple gunned down in Mexican city, motive not yet established

Journalist couple gunned down in Mexican city, motive not yet established
Unidentified people mourn over the caskets containing the body of reporter Juan Rodriguez Rios and his wife during their wake ceremony in Coyuca de Benitez, Mexico, Tuesday, June 29, 2010. Guerrero state police said Rodriguez Rios and his wife were shot to death Monday inside an internet cafe they operated in Coyuca de Benitez, near the resort of Acapulco.

Husband-and-wife journalists Juan Francisco Rodríguez Ríos and María Elvira Hernández Galena were gunned down Monday in the Internet café they owned near their home in Coyuca de Benítez, in the southwestern Mexican state of Guerrero. Their deaths bring the number of journalists murdered since the start of the year in Mexico to seven.

Rodríguez was the local correspondent for two dailies, El Sol de Acapulco and Diario Objetivo, while his wife edited Semanario Nueva Línea, a weekly.

According to local press reports, Rodríguez and Hernández were shot at close range by gunmen who arrived in a black car. Several .38 calibre bullet impacts were found in the Internet café. The couple had two children, aged 17 and 8. The elder witnessed the shooting.

“The level of violence against media personnel keeps on mounting in Mexico,” Paris-based Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) said. “Journalists are continually exposed to threats and physical attacks in the course of their work and live in fear of reprisals. We hope the investigators quickly identify those responsible for this double murder and their motives, and thereby help to end the impunity that prevails in most of these killings. Will the federal authorities now finally break their silence?”

“The International Press Institute (IPI) joins journalists and press freedom groups in Mexico in calling for a speedy investigation and prosecution of this terrible crime,” said IPI Deputy Director Alison Bethel-McKenzie. “It is unacceptable that Mexican journalists must operate under the constant threat of attack. The murders will not end if the killers always get away.”

After offering condolences to the victims' family and colleagues, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) President Alejandro Aguirre, "We condemn this murder and we warn once again that we are facing a form of censorship that is not only costing journalists' lives but creating a culture of fear and infringing on people's right to information."

Aguirre, currently on an IAPA mission to Mexico City, added that "from this very city we are witnessing violence against society at large and the politicians running for governor in the July 4 elections in a number of states" - a reference to the murder of the candidate for governor of Tamaulipas, Rodolfo Torre Cantú.

Rodríguez had been a journalist in the Costa Grande region north of Acapulco for the past 20 years and represented his colleagues on the technical committee of the Guerrero state Support Fund for Journalists. A few days ago, he and several dozen fellow journalists and representatives of media organisations participated in an annual convention for Guerrero state journalists in Coyuca de Benítez, during which concern was voiced about the persistent violence against journalists.

He had worked for El Sol de Acapulco for the past five years, providing general coverage of the Costa Grande region. Pedro Arzeta García, the coordinator of the Support Fund for Journalists, said that so far there was nothing that clearly indicated that his murder was linked to his work as a journalist. The Guerrero state prosecutor’s office began an investigation Tuesday.

A total of 64 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000, while 11 others have gone missing since 2003, according to RSF.

Date posted: July 1, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 208