August 3rd, 2015

Mexican Photojournalist Murdered in Mexico City, after Fleeing Threats in Veracruz

photo courtesy SinEmbargo http://www.sinembargo.mx

photo courtesy SinEmbargo http://www.sinembargo.mx

Ruben Espinosa, a photographer who had covered social protests in the Mexican province of Veracruz for the newspaper Proceso, Agencia Cuartoscuro and other news outlets, was found shot dead in Mexico City on July 31, according to CNN, AP, The Guardian and other news outlets. His body was found in an apartment along with the bodies of four other individuals, all shot to death, according to the local prosecutor.

Espinosa had decided to leave Veracruz in early June when he noticed his house was being watched and he had been followed, he told the website SinEmbargo, which is devoted to freedom of the press.  Espinosa had covered the murders of journalists in Veracruz in recent years, and advocated for the administration of Governor Javier Duarte to investigate the killings. He also complained that members of the local media were taking bribes.

“We are talking about a place where there have been 12 colleagues killed, four disappeared, and from 2000 until today, 17 forced into exile,” he told SinEmbargo in an article published July 1. “And every time a congressman or the governor organizes one of their ‘Freedom of Expression Breakfasts,’ it fills up, because disgracefully, the press of Veracruz is at the service of those who feed it.”

On August 2, journalists held a demonstration in Mexico City demanding that the government clarify that Espinosa was targeted for his journalism, and not killed in the course of a robbery, as police investigators had first suggested. Journalists told SinEmbargo that Espinosa had felt threatened by the Veracruz government, which has been suspected to have played a role in the deaths of at least 12 journalists and the disappearance of others. Many of the protestors carried photos of Espinosa.

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Fleeing Violence Against Journalists, Veracruz Photographer Seeks Asylum in US

June 1st, 2012

Fleeing Violence against Journalists, Veracruz Photographer Seeks Asylum in US

A photojournalist from Veracruz, Mexico, is seeking political asylum in the US following a wave of killings of journalists who have covered drug trafficking in the violence-ridden Mexican state. The El Paso Times reports that Miguel Angel Lopez Solana, a photographer for La Jornada, a daily newspaper in Mexico, has decided to seek political asylum for himself and his wife almost a year after members of his family –who were also fellow journalists–were murdered.

The photographer’s father, Miguel Angel Lopez Velasco, a columnist at the Veracruz paper Notiver, his brother, Misael Lopez Solana, a photographer with Notiver, and his mother were shot and killed in their home on June 20, 2011.

Last month, three news photographers who covered organized crime in Veracruz were found murdered; their dismembered bodies showed signs of torture, according to the Veracruz police.

Miguel Lopez Solana himself was kidnapped and threatened at gunpoint in 2009 over his coverage of the police beat.

Fearing for his life, he recently contacted Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters without Borders, and received a visa to travel to the US. He will file a request for political asylum later this month in Houston, according to his lawyer, Carlos Spector, who has represented other Mexican journalists fleeing anti-press violence in Mexico.

At a forum on press safety held May 23 in Austin, Texas, Lopez Solana told the audience, “They aren’t just killing us journalists, they are drawing and quartering us…We are living in terror.” The Texas Observer reports that Lopez Solana said his colleagues back in Veracruz feel isolated and afraid. “They are traumatized and living in fear. It’s way beyond any fiction you could ever imagine.”

Committee to Protect Journalists reports that since 2006, 45 journalists have been killed or disappeared in Mexico.

(Thanks to Emphas.is for alerting us to Lopez Solana’s story.)

Related story
Three News Photographers Found Murdered in Veracruz, Mexico

May 4th, 2012

Three News Photographers Murdered in Veracruz, Mexico

Three photographers who had covered organized crime and drug violence in the Mexican state of Veracruz were found dead yesterday, AP reports. The bodies of  Guillermo Luna Varela, Gabriel Huge and Esteban Rodriguez were recovered from a wastewater canal near the port city of Veracruz, about 250 miles east of Mexico City. Their bodies had been dismembered and stuffed into black plastic bags. The Veracruz Attorney General’s office also reported that their bodies showed signs of torture.

Their deaths, discovered on World Press Freedom Day, bring to seven the number of journalists killed in Veracruz in the past year and a half. “Veracruz has seen a wave of lethal anti-press violence that is sowing widespread fear and self-censorship,” Carlos Lauria of Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement.  Lauria called on Mexico’s government “to end the deadly cycle of impunity in crimes against the press.”

Luna was a photographer on the crime beat for the web site veracruznews.com.mx who was last seen on Wednesday May 2. He was the nephew of Huge, a journalist who had been working for the local newspaper Notiver until he fled Veracruz after two of the newspaper’s reporters were murdered last year. According to a fellow journalist who spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity, Huge had recently returned to the state. Esteban Rodriguez had been a photographer with the newspaper AZ until he too fled; according to some news reports, he had recently been working as a welder. Also found on the scene was the body of Luna’s girlfriend, Irasema Becerra.