Mexico City, May 30, 2018–Authorities in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas must undertake a swift and credible investigation into the death of Héctor González Antonio, a correspondent for the national newspaper Excelsior and the television broadcaster Imagen, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
González’s body was found by an unidentified person around 7 a.m. on May 29 in Ciudad Victoria, the capital of the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas; González was last seen alive leaving his girlfriend’s house at approximately 11 p.m. the night before, news reports stated. The journalist’s body and face showed signs of being beaten, probably by rocks, according to Luis Alberto Rodríguez, a spokesperson for the state attorney general’s office.
“Mexican authorities must do everything in their power to identify the motive and bring the murderers of Héctor González Antonio to justice,” said CPJ’s Mexico Representative Jan-Albert Hootsen. “Until Mexico takes concrete steps to solve media murders, the cycle of violence and impunity that has made the country one of the most dangerous places in the world for reporters will continue.”
Ricardo Sánchez Pérez del Pozo, who heads the office of the Federal Special Prosecutor for Attention to Crimes Committed against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE), told CPJ today that a federal investigation into the murder has been opened.
Rodríguez told CPJ that, while beating was not the “usual modus operandi of criminals,” law enforcement was still investigating all possible motives into González’s killing.
A spokesperson for the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak on the record told CPJ yesterday that González had not reported any threats to the institution and was not enrolled in any federal protection scheme. Three journalists who knew González and asked to remain anonymous for safety reasons told CPJ that they were not aware of any threats against their colleague.
González, 39, covered general news, including politics and crime, for Excelsior and Imagen, according to the journalists. His most recent articles for Excelsior were on crime in Tamaulipas, including criminal gangs involved in shootouts and blockades in the city of Reynosa and the arrest of four police officers accused of involvement in a May 26 kidnapping.
The journalist was also the founder and editorial director of the local news website Todo Noticias and he previously worked as a reporter for Expreso, a local newspaper in Ciudad Victoria, covering crime and security.
CPJ was unable to reach for comment the victim’s family or his co-workers at Excelsior, Imagen, or Todo Noticias.
Tamaulipas is one of Mexico’s most violent states due to years of warfare between rival drug trafficking gangs, according to news reports. According to statistics from Mexican federal authorities, 1,623 people were murdered in the state in 2017. Journalists in Tamaulipas are often the target of violence, especially when they cover organized crime, according to CPJ research.
Mexico is one of the most deadly countries in the world for journalists, according to CPJ research. Héctor González Antonio was the fifth journalist killed in Mexico this year. CPJ has determined that at least two of the journalists killed in 2018 were targeted in direct reprisal for their work.