Journalists call on government for thorough investigation after another colleague is killed in Veracruz, Mexico

Journalist Manuel Torres González, 45, was shot in the head from behind on May 14 after leaving state offices in the city of Poza Rica in northern Veracruz, as reported by Milenio, citing the Attorney General of Veracruz.

Torres was a collaborator with the city council of Poza Rica and a reporter and editor-in-chief of news site Noticias MT.

Animal Político pointed out that the statement from the Attorney General of Veracruz, in which it said the Prosecutor of the Northern Region of Poza Rica was investigating the case, did not identify Torres as a communicator or journalist.

In a May 16 article about Torres’ funeral, Noreste published the following: “Although the Attorney General of the State ignored Torres’ profession, colleagues confirmed his journalistic activity, exercised for more than a decade. His work was recognized by everyone, including officials and former officials who were present [at his funeral].” He was married with two children.

Noreste said Torres had also worked as a reporter and correspondent for Noreste, TV Azteca, Tukulama, Agencia Imagen del Golfo, Diario de Poza Rica and El Mundo de Poza Rica, while Milenio mentioned outlets including MN Nuestras Noticias, Radio Digital  and Radio Ver.

A kind of final sendoff for their former colleague, the newspaper wrote: “Manuel Torres González was buried in the Holy Trinity cemetery, but his memory will remain in the hearts of his loved ones and his journalistic legacy in the recognition of his colleagues, who demand that the wave of violence cease and the case is solved.”

Many friends and colleagues posted notes of remembrance on Torres’ Facebook Wall, referring to him as a “prominent reporter,” “great friend” and “teacher.”

The State Commission for Attention and Protection to Journalists (CEAPP for its initials in Spanish) has condemned his murder. Martín de Jesús García, an organization commissioner, said there hadn’t been a history or application for protection from Torres, according to Noreste.

On Twitter, Article 19 Mexico urged that the Attorney General of Veracruz “exhaust, as the main line of research, the journalistic work in the murder of Manuel Torres González.”

The freedom of expression organization recently reported that from January to March 2016, there were 69 attacks against the press in the country with a majority (17) having occurred in Veracruz. It noted that this is part of a continuing pattern for the state.

Numerous outlets reported that Torres is either the 16th or 18th journalist to be killed while Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte has been in office. Duarte and his administration have been criticized for their treatment of journalists and perceived failures to protect them.

The governor signed the “State of Veracruz System of Early Warning” on Nov. 2, 2015 to defend journalists in the state, but critics claimed it was for publicity.

In its 2015 annual report on violation against the press in Mexico, Article 19 said “Veracruz is the geographic area on the continent that is most dangerous for journalists.”

Following the 2015 death of journalist in Veracruz, Carlos Lauría, senior program coordinator for the Americas for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said, “authorities have long sought to downplay the risks to journalists in Veracruz.”

Torres is the sixth journalist murdered this year in Mexico. The latest murder was that of Francisco Pacheco Beltrán on April 25 in Guerrero.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.