First journalist killed in Mexico in 2019 reported threats to his life and was under federal protection

A journalist who denounced receiving threats was found dead in Baja California Sur after having been reported as disappeared earlier in the day.

Rafael Murúa Manríquez (Facebook)

The body of Rafael Murúa Manríquez, general director of community radio Radiokashana in the municipality of Mulegé, was found in Santa Rosalía on the coast of the Gulf of California on Jan. 20. He was last seen the previous night, according to El Universal.

He had been under the federal Mechanism for Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists since 2017, as reported by Reporters Without Borders (RSF for its initials in French).

In a Nov. 14, 2018 post on Facebook titled “Prior censorship in Mulegé,” the journalist wrote: “In 52 days of Felipe Prado's government I have experienced more aggressions and abuse of authority than in the previous 6 years since I worked in journalism in my native Santa Rosalía.” Felipe Prado Bautista is the mayor of Mulegé.

However, he wrote this it was “far from the purpose of the article to accuse someone for the incidents.”

“Commenting on policy issues [on my Facebook page] caused aggressions to himself, family and heritage,” he wrote, then referring to an Oct. 29 post on the social media platform in which he criticized the mayor’s actions regarding what he saw as a public security matter.

“That same night they were warning me that they were going to kill me soon. Coincidentally, the information came from the house of one of the officials of the current municipal administration, with a position of coordinator,” he wrote.

He also detailed other incidents including a mob banging on his garage and a bullet breaking a window. He said officials of the city council said he was paranoid for calling attention to the incidents.

Various national and international organizations, such as Article 19 Mexico, AMARC and RSF, mourned the journalist’s death and called for justicce.

“The authorities in Baja California Sur must carry out an exhaustive investigation into this execution-style murder and must prioritize the hypothesis that the victim was killed in connection with his journalistic work,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America desk, according to an organizational release.

“In view of this latest failure on the part of the federal protection mechanism, we call on President López Obrador to carry out a complete overhaul of the provisions for protecting journalists in Mexico.”

Murúa Manríquez is the first journalist killed this year in Mexico, one of the deadliest countries in the world to practice journalism. The last murder was of Alejandro Márquezdirector of the weekly Orión Informativo, on Dec. 1, 2018 in Nayarit.