Reporters Without Borders is appalled to learn that Regina Martínez, the newsweekly Proceso’s respected correspondent in the eastern state of Veracruz, was found strangled in her home in the Veracruz capital of Xalapa on 28 April. She joins the list of 80 journalists killed and 14 disappeared in Mexico in the past decade, a toll exacerbated by the disastrous federal offensive against trafficking during the past five years.
Her murder has caused widespread dismay and has prompted demonstrations by reporters, photographers and free speech defenders in the states of Veracruz, Puebla and Morelos and in Mexico City, where Reporters Without Borders was represented.
“There are not as yet any indications as to the motive, but Martínez dedicated some of her most recent investigative reporting to the murders of other journalists in Veracruz, which became one of the country’s deadliest states in 2011,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Also, on the eve of her murder, she broke the news that nine police officers had been arrested on suspicion of colluding with drug traffickers.
“Investigators should therefore give priority to the possibility that her murder was linked to her work. The tendency on the part of the authorities to rule this out from the start is handicapping the solving of this kind of murder. We demand justice for Martínez and all the other journalists who have been killed or who are missing. Crime pays if it goes unpunished.”
Martínez’s body was found in her bathroom after a neighbour noticed that the door to her apartment had been open for several hours without any sign of movement. The body bore no signs of sexual violence. A plasma TV, a computer and two mobile phones had been removed from the apartment.
Reporters Without Borders shares the concern expressed by Proceso editor Rafael Rodríguez Castañeda, deputy editor Salvador Corro and publisher Julio Scherer García at a meeting with Veracruz’s governor yesterday, and supports their request for the reporter Jorge Carrasco to be included in the special commission that has been created to investigate the murder.
Martínez had upset officials with her reporting. She confirmed this to us in 2008, when she and fellow journalist Rodrigo Vera were summoned to give statements after Proceso published a photo linked to the murder of Ernestina Ascencio, a member of the Nahuatl indigenous community
A constitutional amendment passed by congress allowing the federal courts and investigators to handle crimes that threaten the work of journalists and freedom of information still needs the approval of seven states in order to take effect.
“Although long overdue, this amendment must be put into effect with the necessary resources in order to end the present impunity, which is unbearable,” Reporters Without Borders added.