BY Knight Center for Journalism

Third Mexican journalist murdered in span of two months in Quintana Roo

Another journalist has been killed in Quintana Roo, the third media professional to be murdered in the Mexican state in the past two months. Motives behind his death are still unclear, but journalists and media organizations are calling on authorities to explore all possible lines of investigation.

Journalist Javier Rodríguez Valladares (28), a cameraman with the Canal 10 news team in Cancún, Quintana Roo state, was shot dead in the street next to another person with whom he was talking, according to various national media.

Journalist José Chan Dzib of the weekly Playa News, who covered police issues and had previously received threats, was shot dead on June 29 in the municipality of Felipe Carrillo, on the eve of the country's general elections. Rubén Pat Caiuch, director of Playa News, was killed on July 24 in front of a bar in Playa del Carmen. Pat had protection from the government for having been previously assaulted by police officers as a result of his reporting on organized crime in his city.

The Attorney General of the State of Quintana Roo reported that the execution of Rodriguez and his companion took place around six in the afternoon on Aug. 29 and that they are already investigating the facts, according to Animal Político.

Local journalists and correspondents criticized the conclusions of the Attorney General of Quintana Roo for immediately ruling out that Rodriguez's death was caused by his work, La Silla Rota published.

"In a preliminary way, we know that the cameraman was outside of his work schedule and without a uniform, so, for the moment, his death is ruled out as a direct attack on freedom of expression," the institution said in a release.

Nahum Patiño Arbea, director of investigation and accusation of the northern area of the Attorney General’s Office of the State of Quintana Roo said in a video via Facebook that Rodriguez was at the location where the murder happened at the invitation of the other person who was also killed. "We know that this other person has open investigations from a long time ago that we are verifying with different authorities," Patiño said.

According to CPJ, Rodríguez had not received any threats and the media outlet for which he worked is also not included in any federal protection program. However, in October 2017, the building of the channel's headquarters was shot several times by unknown persons, as reported by CPJ.

"The killing of Javier Enrique Rodríguez Valladares perpetuates a series of deadly attacks on journalists this year in Quintana Roo, a state that until recently was not one of the most dangerous places for journalists in Mexico," said Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ's Mexico representative.

Journalist Germán Espiridión, director of the news page El Balcón on Facebook and a colleague of Rodríguez since they worked together on Televisa, lamented the murder of his collaborator and friend, whom he said was a very talented, hardworking cameraman and very loved by his friends.

"Cancun is in the middle of a wave of uncontrollable violence that no authority has been able to stop. More than 360 executed so far this year. We demand, not as media, not as journalists, not as communicators, but as citizens of Cancún that the facts be clarified,” Espiridión said.

The advisory council of the Human Rights Commission of Quintana Roo issued a statement in which it profoundly lamented the killing of Rodríguez Valladares and described the death of a third journalist in the state so far this year as unacceptable, since journalism is a fundamental exercise for democracy.

"It is important to emphasize that violence should not be normalized and that every human loss as a result of this must be emphatically brought to justice through our institutions," the document said.

Communications professionals scheduled a march in Cancun today at 6 p.m. to demand a halt to violence and attacks against freedom of expression in Quintana Roo, according to the site Quequi.

Emmanuel Colombié, head of the Latin America bureau for Reporters Without Borders (RSF, for its initials in French), said this is the eighth murder of a journalist in Mexico in 2018. He emphasized, “The new government must realize the urgency of the situation and bring the vicious circle of violence to an end by providing the media with effective and lasting protection.”