Re­porter is shot dead at up­scale bar in Mex­ico

Vic­tim is the eighth jour­nal­ist to be killed this year in the na­tion. The mo­tive is un­clear.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Kate Linthicum kate.linthicum @la­times.com

MEX­ICO CITY — A jour­nal­ist cel­e­brat­ing his 29th birth­day was shot to death early Mon­day at a bar in the Mex­i­can re­sort city of Rosar­ito.

Lu­ciano Rivera Sal­gado, who cov­ered crime for a Baja Cal­i­for­nia tele­vi­sion chan­nel and pub­lished a news web­site called El Dic­ta­men, is at least the eighth jour­nal­ist to be killed this year in a coun­try that ranks among the most dan­ger­ous for mem­bers of the me­dia.

The mo­tive be­hind the killing — in­clud­ing whether Rivera Sal­gado was killed be­cause of his jour­nal­is­tic work — was still un­clear.

A po­lice of­fi­cial told Zeta news­pa­per that Rivera Sal­gado was shot in the head at 1:40 a.m. at La An­tigua Bar, an up­scale drink­ing es­tab­lish­ment a few blocks from the ocean. Se­cu­rity cam­era images from out­side the bar shows sev­eral men rac­ing out shortly af­ter the shoot­ing.

The of­fi­cial who spoke to Zeta said that author­i­ties would in­ves­ti­gate the mo­tive but that it ap­peared Rivera Sal­gado may have been killed be­cause of “a dis­pute be­tween the re­porter and his ag­gres­sors” at the bar. A re­porter in Baja Cal­i­for­nia said cam­era images from in­side the bar sug­gested Rivera Sal­gado may have an­gered other pa­trons when he de­fended a group of women who he be­lieved were be­ing ha­rassed.

De­ter­min­ing ex­actly why a jour­nal­ist was killed can be dif­fi­cult in Mex­ico, where re­porters are fre­quently tar­geted be­cause of the sto­ries they pub­lish, but where more gen­eral vi­o­lence is also be­com­ing in­creas­ingly wide­spread.

Mario Rivera, the di­rec­tor of CNR TV, where Rivera Sal­gado worked for nearly 10 years, said it was es­sen­tial that author­i­ties look closely at whether Rivera Sal­gado’s work played a role in his killing.

“He of­ten crit­i­cized the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion here,” the di­rec­tor said of Rivera Sal­gado. “We as a sta­tion have been very tough crit­ics.”

“We are look­ing at all of the lines of in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” he said, ad­ding that the sta­tion is check­ing to see whether Rivera Sal­gado had re­cently re­ceived any threats.

Of the seven other jour­nal­ists killed in Mex­ico this year, at least four were slain in di­rect re­tal­i­a­tion for their work, ac­cord­ing to the Com­mit­tee to Pro­tect Jour­nal­ists, which has named Mex­ico the most dan­ger­ous coun­try in the Western Hemi­sphere for jour­nal­ists. Only Iraq has seen more jour­nal­ists killed.

The re­cent killings in­clude the mid­day slay­ing in May of in­ves­tiga­tive re­porter Javier Valdez as well as the March shoot­ing of jour­nal­ist Miroslava Breach, who had in­ves­ti­gated links be­tween or­ga­nized crime and po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates in the state of Chi­huahua.

Their deaths have prompted an in­ter­na­tional cam­paign aimed at Mex­ico’s top lead­ers, with news out­lets from around the world call­ing on Pres­i­dent En­rique Peña Ni­eto to do more to in­ves­ti­gate the killings. Like most slay­ings in Mex­ico, those tar­get­ing me­dia work­ers are rarely solved.

One of the most re­cent sto­ries pub­lished on Rivera Sal­gado’s El Dic­ta­men web­site marked the an­niver­sary of the un­solved killing two years ago of Mex­i­can pho­tog­ra­pher Ruben Espinosa.

Vi­o­lence tar­get­ing jour­nal­ists is part of a larger crime wave sweep­ing the coun­try, which is on track to record more killings this year than at any point in the last two decades. Baja Cal­i­for­nia, which has been the site of a turf bat­tle be­tween war­ring drug car­tels, has been es­pe­cially hard hit.

Gov­ern­ment statis­tics show that 185 peo­ple were killed in the state in May, which equates to an an­nual rate of 67 deaths per 100,000 peo­ple — or roughly 11 times that of Los An­ge­les in re­cent years.

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