Journalist Manuel Santiago Torres González was shot to death on May 14, 2016, in the city of Poza Rica, in the eastern coastal state of Veracruz. According to local press reports, Torres was shot in the head at around 3 p.m. in Poza Rica’s Cazones neighborhood by an unidentified assailant. He was walking to his home after covering an electoral campaign event in nearby Tuxpan, according to news reports.
Torres, 48, was the editor of the news website Noticias MT. He also worked as an assistant to a local councilman, the Veracruz state attorney’s office said in a statement. In the past, Torres had been a reporter for portal Radiover.com, newspaper El Noreste de Poza Rica, and a correspondent for national broadcaster TV Azteca, according to press reports. He had also regularly contributed to a number of regional publications, and was a recipient of the State Journalism Award in 2009.
The Veracruz state commission for the protection of journalists condemned the murder and, in a brief statement, called for the authorities to investigate. The Veracruz state attorney general’s office identified him only as an “assistant of a local councilman.”
Colleagues and others who knew Torres told CPJ that they were unaware of any specific threats against him. One former colleague, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, said he and many of his fellow journalists in Veracruz were “baffled” by the murder.
According to Torres’ colleague, the journalist had launched Noticias MT last year, publishing news articles on local affairs. He told CPJ the victim had covered police news when he worked for El Noreste de Poza Rica, but had stopped reporting on violence and crime altogether several years ago. He had recently covered election campaigns in the region and local teacher examinations.
“We really don’t know where the attacks come from anymore,” the same reporter told CPJ. “This is another blow to journalism in the state.”
Veracruz is a hub for drug and human trafficking and has been the site of violent battles between organized crime groups for almost a decade. Poza Rica has often been the focal point of the violence.