Photos of slain journalist Nelson Matus Peña are seen during a protest in Mexico City on July 18, 2023. Matus was killed by unidentified attackers on July 15 in Acapulco. (Reuters/Raquel Cunha)

Mexican journalist Nelson Matus Peña killed in Acapulco

Mexico City, July 20, 2023—Mexican authorities must investigate the killing of journalist Nelson Matus Peña, determine whether he was targeted for his work, and bring his killers to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.

On July 15, several unidentified attackers shot and killed Matus, founder and editor of Lo Real de Guerrero, in a parking lot in the Pacific coast city of Acapulco, in Guerrero state.

Lo Real de Guerrero, a news website and Facebook page, frequently covered crime, violence, and security issues in Acapulco, a city long popular with foreign and domestic tourists.

Matus’ killing occurred just one week after reporter Luis Martín Sánchez was found killed in the northern Mexican state of Nayarit.

CPJ repeatedly called the Guerrero public prosecutor’s office for comment but no one answered, and the office has not posted any information about Matus’ case on its official website.

“Mexican journalist Nelson Matus Peña’s brutal killing is all the more shocking given that his life was taken only one week after another reporter, Luis Martín Sánchez, was found dead in Nayarit,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ’s Mexico representative. “Sadly, Mexican authorities continue to prove ineffective at protecting journalists, who are frequently targeted by such attacks.”

Matus founded Lo Real de Guerrero several years ago and also contributed to local media outlets including Alarma magazine, the El Alarmante newspaper, and news website Agora Guerrero. CPJ contacted those outlets for comment but did not receive any replies.

In the days before his death, Lo Real de Guerrero published several stories without a byline covering violent incidents and deadly shootouts in Acapulco.

Matus escaped a potential assassination attempt by unidentified assailants in 2017, and the mother of Lo Real de Guerrero administrator Reina Balbuena was killed that March, news reports said.

CPJ contacted an official with the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists for comment but did not receive any response.

According to CPJ research, at least three journalists were murdered in direct relation to their work in Mexico in 2022. CPJ is investigating the killings of another 10 reporters to determine the motive. 

In a country characterized by corruption and organized crime, CPJ has noted the difficulties in determining which journalists were targeted for their work and which were killed as part of the dangerous environment in the country more broadly. 

Mexico ranked sixth on CPJ’s 2022 Impunity Index, which analyzes countries where journalists are killed and their attackers go free.