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On the eve of World Press Freedom Day, yet another journalist is killed in Mexico

Crosses with the names of 14 journalists and human rights defenders who have been killed in the three months since President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office stand in front of the National Palace, with the Metropolitan Cathedral behind, in Mexico City's main square on Feb. 22, 2019. (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)

Mexican radio journalist Telésforo Santiago Enríquez was killed Thursday in Oaxaca state, the latest journalist to be slain in Mexico — which the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) calls “the deadliest country for journalists in the Western hemisphere.”

Jesús Ramírez Cuevas, spokesman for Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, tweeted Thursday that Enriquez founded a community radio station in Oaxaca, and said the Mexican government was “committed to finding those responsible for this attack against Mexican journalism.” The Associated Press reported that Enriquez was found dead with gunshot wounds in a vehicle.

According to CPJ data, 48 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 1992, including 45 who were targeted for murder. Of those cases, 40 were murdered with impunity, the watchdog group says.

A number of Mexican journalists have been killed this year, although CPJ has not confirmed that all of these killings were directly related to the victims’ work.

In March, Mexican media reported that journalist Omar Iván Camacho was found dead in Sinaloa state. Just a few days earlier, radio journalist Santiago Barroso was shot dead in his home in northern Mexico. According to the CPJ, the state’s attorney general said at the time that he appeared to have been targeted because of his work as a journalist.

In February, Samir Flores Soberanes, an activist who also worked in community radio, was fatally shot. And in January, another radio journalist, Rafael Murúa Manríquez, was also found dead in northwest Mexico.

It is a cruel irony that another journalist was killed in Mexico on the eve of World Press Freedom Day — a day intended to acknowledge the difficult circumstances journalists face and to honor those who have been killed or jailed because of their work.

“It’s absolutely horrifying that this is how we have to go through a day when we should be thinking about the importance of media for a free and democratic society,” Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ’s Mexico representative, told The Washington Post in a phone call Friday. Journalists in Mexico are in “a state of constant siege that is worsening,” he said.

Hootsen said that in addition to his work as a journalist, Enríquez was also politically active but that it was not yet clear what motivated his killer.

According to CPJ data, four journalists were killed “in direct reprisal for the work” in Mexico in 2018, and six were killed in 2017.

Victims and their families often do not see justice done for the violence perpetrated against them.

“Impunity in Mexico continues to be terribly high,” Hootsen said.

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