Jorge Celestino Ruiz Vázquez, a reporter for the newspaper El Gráfico, was shot dead on August 2, 2019 in the eastern state of Veracruz. Unidentified attackers shot the reporter in a convenience store that he owned in La Bocanita, a small town in Actopán, at approximately 9:15 p.m, according to police statements given to the Mexico City paper El Universal and other news reports.
In an August 3 statement published on Facebook, the Veracruz state attorney general’s office said it is investigating the shooting. “The necessary actions will be taken to guarantee that there will not be impunity,” the state attorney general, Jorge Winckler, said.
Ruiz was a correspondent for El Gráfico, one of the state’s oldest newspapers, based in the state capital Xalapa. According to Proceso, a Mexico City-based newsmagazine, the reporter covered general news, including local politics, crime, and violence.
News reports and the statement by the state attorney general’s office said that Ruiz had received threats on several occasions over his reporting, although none of the reports specified the nature of the threats or to which stories they related.
News website La Silla Rota, citing the case file that Veracruz state authorities have opened into the killing, on August 6, reported that Actopán Mayor Paulino Domínguez and several other municipal officials had allegedly threatened Ruiz. According to La Silla Rota, Domínguez allegedly tried to bribe the journalist to prevent him from publishing critical articles about the municipal government.
CPJ was unable to locate contact details for Domínguez and the municipal government of Actopán did not answer several calls from CPJ on August 5 and 6, 2019 seeking comment. CPJ’s calls to El Gráfico on August 5 and 6 also went unanswered and CPJ was unable to find contact information for Ruiz’s family.
La Silla Rota reported that Ruiz was attacked on two occasions in 2018. On October 14, assailants used clubs to damage the reporter’s vehicle and on November 17, attackers shot at Ruiz’s car and residence. According to the article, Ruiz had reported both crimes to local authorities.
The Veracruz state attorney general’s office said in its Facebook statement that its office had provided the reporter with protective measures and that authorities are investigating why the measures weren’t fully implemented.
Several attempts by CPJ to reach state Attorney General Winckler by telephone remained unanswered on August 6.