Mexican journalist brutally attacked in main square in Michoacán state

Mexican journalist Jorge Martínez Castañeda was hospitalized after being brutally beaten while walking with his grandson in the main square of Tacámbaro, in Michoacán state, on Jan. 6.

The son of an influential gas station owner in that town has been accused of carrying out the beating, according to SDPNoticias. The news site said he did it because “he was not pleased by publications that the reported had made.” However, newsmagazine Proceso said the motivations for the attack were unknown.

The man was arrested, but quickly released, “apparently because of the influence of his father,” newspaper Provincia reported.

The Office of the Attorney General (PGJ) of the state of Michoacán took to Twitter to assure residents that there would not be impunity in the case of a journalist who was attacked in Tacámbaro.

The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) condemned the beating and said it was working with the State Commission of Human Rights (CEDH) of Michoacán on the case.

Víctor Manuel Serrato, president of the CEDH of Michoacán, said the agency was helping with investigations and was working with the national commission “to assess the possibility of arranging interim measures or protection mechanisms,” newsmagazine Proceso reported.

“Not one more attack on journalists will go unpunished. We will ensure that more cases do not go unpunished,” Manuel Serrato said, according to Proceso.

Violence against journalists in Mexico has reached historic levels in recent years. Seven journalists were killed in Mexico in 2015, making it the deadliest year for the press in that country since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in 2012, according to Article 19.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) ranked the country as the 8th deadliest nation for journalists in 2015. Additionally, the country was listed 8th on the organization’s 2015 Global Impunity Index, as killers of journalists are rarely brought to justice.

This violence and impunity, as well as the protection offered to journalists in danger, has come under increased scrutiny in the past year largely due to the high-profile murder of Proceso photographer Rubén Espinosa Becerril on July 31, 2015. He and four women were brutally killed in a Mexico City apartment after he fled from the state of Veracruz, fearing for his life. He did not seek out the protection of the country’s Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, which has been heavily questioned by journalists and international advocates for its effectiveness.

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.