BY Guardian

Mexico: first journalist found dead in 2020 after high number of 2019 killings

It has taken just over a week for Mexico – one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists – to record its first murder of a reporter in 2020.

The bullet-riddled corpse of radio presenter Fidel Ávila Gómez was found on Wednesday near a rubbish dump in the notorious Tierra Caliente region, Mexico’s heroin-producing heartlands.

Ávila, who was reportedly in his mid-40s, had disappeared over a month earlier.

The El Universal newspaper said he was the seventh journalist to be murdered in Michoacán state since 2006. Another six have gone missing, joining the ranks of an estimated 62,000 desaparecidos.

Locals remembered Ávila as a “kind, respectful and hardworking” reporter. There was no immediate explanation for his killing.

Recent years have seen Mexico become one of the most perilous places on earth to be a reporter.

Last month the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Mexico had suffered the second highest number of killings in 2019 after war-torn Syria. Of the 11 Mexican journalists killed, at least five were targeted in reprisal for their reporting, the CPJ said.

The slaughter of Mexican journalists is part of a broader security crisis that represents one of the greatest challenges to the leftist president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

López Obrador took office in December 2018 vowing to “pacify” the country, but since then the number of murders has continued to soar, with 2020 already looking set to prove another bloody year.

According to local reports, 41 people were murdered in the city of Tijuana in the first eight days of this year, while more than 100 have died in Guanajuato state to the north of Mexico City, where a conflict for control of the fuel-smuggling trade is raging between mafia groups.

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