Gunmen attack journalist’s home in Mexico

Mexico City, October 2, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the attack on the home of a Mexican crime and politics beat reporter early Monday morning in Zacatecas state and calls on authorities to bring those responsible to justice.

Unidentified gunmen shot at the home and vehicle of Margarito Juárez González at around 4 a.m. as he and his family slept, according to his employer, the daily Página 24. The house and the car were damaged, but no one was harmed in the attack. Juárez, a correspondent for Página 24 in Fresnillo city, told his employer that the bullets grazed their heads as they slept. “I thought we were going to die,” he said.

“We call on authorities to ensure the safety of journalist Margarito Juárez González and his family,” Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas, from New York. “It is exactly these kinds of attacks that have terrified many local journalists into silence. Authorities must bring those responsible for this crime to justice and ensure that reporters can do their jobs without fearing for their lives.”

Arturo Nahle García, attorney general for Zacatecas state, said the attack was possibly in connection with Juárez’s coverage of crime in Fresnillo. An investigation was ongoing, he said.

Juárez has been critical in his coverage of local politics. He has reported on crime and local issues like mismanagement of municipal money and the lack of security in the city.

Juárez has faced reprisal for his reporting in recent months. In December 2013, his vehicle was stolen and torched, Luis Gerardo Esparza, editor of Página 24 in Zacatecas city, told CPJ. Two copies of Página 24 were left on the burned-out hood. The case remains unsolved, Esparza said.

Zacatecas has been hit hard by organized crime violence over the past five years. The presence of organized crime in the state has forced local reporters to practice self-censorship in order to stay safe, according to CPJ research.

Drug-related violence has made Mexico one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.