Soldiers keep watch after people fled armed gang violence in Tila, Chiapas state, Mexico, on June 12.
Soldiers keep watch after people fled armed gang violence in Tila, Chiapas state, Mexico, on June 12. It is unclear whether the death of journalist Víctor Alfonso Culebro Morales was linked to his reporting on the government's failure to quell the turf wars. (Photo: Reuters/Jacob Garcia)

Mexican journalist Victor Morales found dead on highway

Mexico City, July 11, 2024—Mexican authorities must credibly investigate the killing of journalist Víctor Alfonso Culebro Morales, apprehend those responsible, and determine whether he was targeted for his work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.

The body of Morales, founder and editor of the Facebook-based news site Realidades, was found on the side of a highway in southern Chiapas state on June 28, according to the state prosecutor’s office, which has opened a murder investigation. El Universal newspaper reported that Morales’ hands were tied and his face was taped while La Silla Rota news site said that he had been shot. Neither named their sources.

“The brutal murder of Víctor Morales is a sad reminder of the ongoing violence and impunity crisis journalists in Mexico are facing and underscores the urgent need for President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum to prioritize press safety when she takes office in October,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ’s Mexico Representative. “Mexican authorities must do everything in their power to apprehend those responsible for this latest killing and establish the motive.”

The Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, which coordinates protection for reporters at risk, was not aware of any threats against Morales, one of its officials told CPJ on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to comment publicly.

A June 26 report on Realidades said that the deployment of thousands of soldiers and police officers to Chiapas had failed to stem violence related to turf wars between criminal gangs.

CPJ’s calls to the state prosecutor’s office requesting comment were not answered.

Mexico ranked seventh on CPJ’s latest Global Impunity Index, which measures where murderers of journalists are most likely to go free.