New York, May 4, 2012–The bodies of two Mexican news photographers who specialized in the crime beat were found along with the bodies of a former photojournalist and a fourth individual in a canal in the city of Boca del Río, in Veracruz state, according to news reports.
“We condemn these murders and demand Mexican authorities take decisive action to enforce the rule of law and ensure the safety of journalists in Veracruz,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas.
The dismembered bodies of photographers Gabriel Huge Córdova and Guillermo Luna Varela were found along with the body of Esteban Rodríguez, a former Veracruz news photographer, and Irasema Becerra, who was said to have been Luna’s companion, according to news reports. News accounts said Huge and Luna had disappeared on Wednesday.
Huge worked at Notiver, the principal newspaper in Veracruz, but after three Notiver journalists were murdered last year, he had fled the city along with other local journalists, news reports said. News accounts reported that upon Huge’s return to Veracruz in recent months, he had worked periodically as a freelance photographer, among other jobs.
Luna also once worked as a photographer for Notiver, but had left the paper, according to news reports. He had worked as a photographer for the website Veracruznews for the past six months, Martín Lara Reyna, the site’s owner, told CPJ.
Rodríguez, who used to work as a news photographer for the local newspaper AZ, had quit after the Notiver murders last year and taken a job as a welder, local journalists and news reports said.
News accounts reported that Becerra, Luna’s girlfriend, had performed administrative duties at a local newspaper.
A federal official who wished to remain unidentified said on Friday that all journalists on the police beat in Xalapa, the capital of Veracruz state, as well as in the cities of Veracruz and Boca del Rio, had been offered local police protection this morning. The official also said that protection was offered to the facilities of all media outlets covering the police beat. CPJ has documented a mixture of negligence and pervasive corruption among law enforcement officials, particularly at the state level.
Veracruz, which is a battleground for the Zetas and Sinaloa cartels, is one of Mexico’s most dangerous states for the press, according to CPJ research. Four journalists were murdered there in 2011, and on Saturday, the body of journalist Regina Martínez Pérez was found strangled in her home in Xalapa.
Since 2006, more than 45 journalists have been killed or disappeared in Mexico, according to CPJ research. Mexico appeared in eighth place in CPJ’s 2012 Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are slain and their killers go free.