BY The Guardian

'They went to execute him': fourth Mexican journalist killed so far in 2018

Yet another Mexican journalist has been assassinated as attacks on media workers in the country continue unabated.

Juan Carlos Huerta was shot dead on Tuesday morning as he drove away from his home in Villahermosa, the capital of southern Tabasco state.

The state governor Arturo Núñez said the killing was not a robbery and appeared to be related to Huerta’s work as a journalist. “They apparently went to execute him,” he said.

Huerta hosted a television program and was as director of a radio station in Tabasco.

The attack came as journalists across Mexico gathered to mark the first anniversary of the murder of Javier Valdez, a prominent and popular reporter in the central state of Sinaloa.

Valdez founded the newsweekly Ríodoce, which fearlessly covered crime and corruption in the state, which has been convulsed by fresh violence amid a cartel power struggle after the extradition of crime boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

He was pulled from his car on 15 May 2017 at midday and shot 12 times.

Valdez’s suspected killer was detained last month – a rarity in a country where crimes committed against journalists are seldom investigated with any rigour.

Núñez was the 10th reporter to have been murdered since Valdez’s death. 

“Impunity continues to incentivise the killers,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, Mexico representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Four journalists have been murdered in Mexico so far in 2018, according to CPJ, and two of those killings are confirmed to have been carried out due to the reporters’ work.

In the most recent Reporters Without Borders (RSF) World Press Freedom index, Mexico ranked 147 – one spot ahead of Russia. Twelve reporters were murdered in Mexico in 2017, putting it on par with Syria, according to RSF.

Since Mexico launched its militarised war on drug cartels a decade ago, the country has become a cemetery for reporters.