Journalist Javier Valdez shot to death in Mexico drug state

Kristopher Drake
May 16, 2017

An award-winning Mexican journalist was gunned down on Monday in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, the fifth reporter killed in the past three months as the country struggles to contain resurgent bloodshed among warring drug cartels.

Javier Valdez was killed when assailants opened fire on his vehicle in the state capital, Culiacan, according to RioDoce, the media outlet he co-founded and where he worked. He reported for the Mexican newspaper La Jornada (Spanish.) He was also a valuable source for global reporters trying to piece together the debacle that is Mexico today.

According to reports, the journalist specialized in covering the drug trafficking was driving at 12 p.m. along the Vicente Riva Palacio street when a gunman stopped him, forced him to get out of his vehicle and shot him dead.

Mexico is one of the most unsafe places to be a journalist, with the vast majority of attacks on the press unpunished.

Valdez worked in the Mexican state of Sinaloa for outlets like AFP and La Jornada.

A state police source said her son, Jonathan Rodriguez Cordova, worked as a reporter at the family-run magazine, which publishes local news that includes some crime reporting.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and the U.S. ambassador to Mexico condemned Valdez's killing. It is one of the most unsafe in the country, fueled by drug cartel violence.

The federal Attorney General's Office said it was investigating.

Photographs from Sinaloa showed Valdez's body in the middle of a street, the brimmed hat he often wore lying among a dozen yellow markers for bullets.

Mexican and foreign journalists paid homage to Valdez on social media, describing him as a courageous writer and generous friend whose killers must be brought to justice to deter future slayings. The former is a look at the relationship between journalism and organized crime, and the latter chronicles the lives of young people swept up in Mexico's criminal underworld.

According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, Valdez had told them he was concerned for his safety just weeks before his murder.

Mexico ranks third in the world for the number of journalists killed, after Syria and Afghanistan, according to media rights group Reporters Without Borders.

"Living in Sinaloa is a threat, and being a journalist is an additional threat", said Mr Valdez, when asked in 2011 about his work.

Its founder Joaquin Guzman, also known as "El Chapo" (Shorty), was captured is 2014 and is now in jail awaiting trial in the US. Ricardo Sanchez Perez del Pozo, a lawyer with a background in worldwide law and human rights, took over the post.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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