Mexico City, August 2, 2019—Mexican authorities must immediately investigate the killing of Guerrero state journalists Rogelio Barragán Pérez, founder of the news website Guerrero Al Instante, and Edgar Alberto Nava López, founder of the news website La Verdad de Zihuatanejo, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Barragán’s body was found at about 6:30 p.m. on July 30, in the trunk of a gray Volkswagen Jetta in the town of Zacatepec, in Morelos state, about 35 miles from Guerrero, according to local and national media. The reports said that his body showed signs of beatings on the neck and head.
Separately, Nava, of La Verdad de Zihuatanejo, was found dead today in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero. A statement published by the state’s attorney general’s office said that he was killed with at least one gunshot.
“Mexican authorities must carry out an immediate and credible investigation into the murders of Guerrero state journalists Rogelio Barragán Pérez and Edgar Alberto Nava López,” said CPJ Mexico Representative Jan-Albert Hootsen. “These two brutal killings within days of each other are the tragic consequence of Mexico’s failure to seriously address impunity in attacks on the press.”
Barragán, 47, was the founder of Guerrero Al Instante, a news website that he also reported for and edited. The website, based in Chilpancingo, the state capital of Guerrero, publishes regional news on politics, sports, social events, and crime. Articles in recent weeks included news on murders in the cities of Taxco and La Garita. Barragán previously worked for the news websites Ecos de Guerrero and Agencia Informativa Guerrero, according a report by Mexico City magazine Zócalo, which covers press freedom and media issues.
The journalist’s colleagues told the Mexico representative for Reporters Without Borders that Barragán had recently stopped adding his byline to reports on crime and violence, citing concerns for his safety.
Several requests for comment by CPJ sent via social media to Guerrero Al Instante this week remain unanswered.
Separately, Nava, of La Verdad de Zihuatanejo, had received threats over his reporting, the journalist’s friend and former colleague, Omar Bello Pineda, told CPJ. “[Nava] told me two months ago that he had received death threats over some stories about criminals, who had felt uncomfortable with what he wrote,” said Bello, who is also a spokesperson for the Mexican Association of Journalists at Risk and Displaced. “He told me that he had taken down those stories.” Bello was unable to provide CPJ with further details on the threats.
Bello said that Nava started La Verdad de Zihuatanejo, which publishes on Facebook, in 2014. He added that Nava had been a reporter since 2005 and worked previously for El Diario de Zihuatanejo and El Despertar de la Costa.
In October, Nava was appointed director of regulations for the municipal government of Zihuatanejo, Bello said. He continued to publish articles, including news on the local government, as well as crime and violence, commonly known as “red news” in Mexico.
An official at the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, who asked for anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on the matter, told CPJ that neither journalist was enrolled in the federal protection scheme.
Ricardo Sánchez Pérez del Pozo, who heads the office of the Federal Special Prosecutor for Attention to Crimes Committed against Freedom of Expression, told CPJ today that his office had not opened an investigation in either case, adding that Guerrero state authorities had not requested assistance.
Mexico is the most dangerous country in the Western Hemisphere for journalists. According to CPJ research, at least three journalists have been killed in direct relation to their work in 2019. CPJ is investigating four other killings, not including the two in Guerrero, to determine whether the motive was related to the journalists’ work.