An­other jour­nal­ist is shot dead in Mex­ico

Re­porter’s killing is the fourth in less than two months amid a string of vi­o­lent attacks.

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

MEX­ICO CITY — An­other jour­nal­ist has been killed in Mex­ico — the fourth in just six weeks.

Au­thor­i­ties said re­porter Max­imino Ro­driguez Pala­cios was shot dead out­side of a shop­ping cen­ter Fri­day in La Paz, a coastal city in the state of Baja Cal­i­for­nia Sur.

Ro­driguez, 72, wrote about pol­i­tics and crime for a news or­ga­ni­za­tion called the Per­icu Col­lec­tive. He had pre­vi­ously worked as a spokesman for the state at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice.

Fri­day’s shoot­ing is the lat­est in a string of vi­o­lent attacks on jour­nal­ists in Mex­ico that has claimed four lives since March 2 and has left sev­eral oth­ers wounded. The attacks have drawn con­dem­na­tion from hu­man rights ad­vo­cates, with the Com­mit­tee to Pro­tect Jour­nal­ists call­ing the sit­u­a­tion in Mex­ico a “cri­sis” of free­dom of ex­pres­sion.

Mex­ico’s hu­man rights com­mis­sion, which on Saturday said it was send­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tors to La Paz to mon­i­tor the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the killing, has con­vened emergency talks with law en­force­ment of­fi­cials from around the coun­try to dis­cuss how to bet­ter pro­tect jour­nal­ists.

Mex­ico is the world’s third-most danger­ous coun­try for jour­nal­ists, af­ter Syria and Afghanistan, ac­cord­ing to Re­porters With­out Bor­ders. Since 2000, 124 jour­nal­ists have been killed, ac­cord­ing to Mex­ico’s hu­man rights com­mis­sion.

But re­cent weeks have been es­pe­cially bad.

On March 23, an in­ves­tiga­tive re­porter for the na­tional La Jor­nada was gunned down in the north­ern state of Chi­huahua while driv­ing with one of her chil­dren. On March 19, colum­nist Ri­cardo Mon­lui was shot twice as he left a restau­rant with his wife and son in the Gulf Coast state of Ver­acruz. And on March 2, Ce­cilio Pineda Birto, a free­lancer and the founder of La Voz de Tierra Caliente, was shot and killed at a car wash in Guer­rero state.

The sit­u­a­tion has got­ten so bad that one news­pa­per, in the border city of Juarez, de­cided to shut down be­cause vi­o­lence against jour­nal­ists was “pre­vent­ing us from con­tin­u­ing freely with our work,” its edi­tor said.

The re­cent uptick in deaths cor­re­sponds with a broader in­crease in vi­o­lence across Mex­ico, where more peo­ple were killed in Jan­uary of this year than in any pre­vi­ous Jan­uary on record.

Baja Cal­i­for­nia Sur, a tourist des­ti­na­tion that was long un­touched by drug war vi­o­lence, has be­come in­creas­ingly danger­ous as car­tels vie for its strate­gic drug smug­gling routes.

The state had a mur­der rate of 71 per 100,000 peo­ple in Jan­uary. By com­par­i­son, the homi­cide rate in the U.S. last year was 5 per 100,000.

Ro­driguez had cov­ered the in­crease in crime in his home state for the Per­icu Col­lec­tive. He doc­u­mented killings on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, and also wrote a col­umn. He re­cently wrote about a lo­cal union whose boss Ro­driguez al­leged was cor­rupt.

Ac­cord­ing to a state­ment on the Per­icu Col­lec­tive’s web­site, Ro­driguez was help­ing his wife out of their car in a park­ing lot when as­sailants in a white truck opened fire. Ro­driguez’ wife, also a jour­nal­ist, sur­vived.

AFP/Getty Im­ages

PO­LICE work at the site where Max­imino Ro­driguez Pala­cios was shot, out­side a shop­ping cen­ter in La Paz, Mex­ico. The coun­try is the third-most danger­ous for jour­nal­ists, ac­cord­ing to Re­porters With­out Bor­ders.

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