MEXICO- A crime reporter and photographer, Margarito Martinez Esquivel, was shot dead outside his Tijuana home on Monday, following the death of another reporter last week in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz.
As a result of the killings, 2022 has been marked by grim events in Mexico, which is widely regarded as one of the most dangerous places outside active war zones for journalists. Reporters both delved into corruption and drug-fuelled violence.
Martinez’s distraught wife Elena Martinez said, “Unfortunately, I was unable to help him.”
Among the international media outlets, Martinez worked with were the San Diego Union-Tribune, BBC, the Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post.
Martinez’s death came a week after another journalist, José Luis Gamboa, was stabbed to death in Veracruz, another of Mexico’s most violent states.
Gamboa, the director of the news website Inforegio, had requested the appointment of an anti-drug tzar two days earlier in a tweet accusing the government of failing to stem the decades-long bloodshed.
Gamboa lamented that parts of the government had become involved in “a great criminal association” with the cartels, rather than fighting drug trafficking. “Mexico’s population is still unaware of the seriousness of this situation,” Gamboa tweeted.
Two unsolved killings – which follow the murder of nine journalists a year ago – sparked outrage and mourning in the Latin American country, which is regarded as one of the most dangerous places in the world for reporters.
The fear of being abducted and killed has led some journalists to take homemade dental impressions and store them in the freezer at home before leaving to report so their families can identify their remains.
According to Jan-Albert Hootsen, the Mexico representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists, “it is shocking to have this happen so early in the year and so soon after another murder.”
Martinez is the 29th Mexican journalist to be killed since Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office in December 2018, promising to pacify the country.
As news of Martinez’s killing spread, the Facebook page where he would live stream murder scenes to thousands of followers was inundated with messages of condolence from friends and politicians.