Mexican journalist killed while covering teachers' protest in Oaxaca

By Yenibel Ruiz

Mexican reporter Elidio Ramos Zárate, who had been covering a teachers’ union protest in Oaxaca, was killed on June 19 while taking a photo of a robbery in-progress at a convenience store, according to newspaper El Universal.

Ramos Zárate worked at El Sur, a newspaper printed in Istmo de Tehuantepec, a region of Oaxaca state in southern Mexico. He is the seventh journalist killed in Mexico, and the third in Oaxaca, in 2016. Marcos Hernández Bautista of Noticias Voz e Imagen and community radio host Reynel Martínez Cerqueda were killed on January 21 and 22, respectively.

Teachers in Oaxaca have been protesting reforms for about a week. On June 19, violence came to a head as police tried to clear a roadblock in Nochixtlan where authorities would later say six were killed. Ramos Zárate was killed in nearby Juchitán.

"In Sunday's clashes in the southern state of Oaxaca, protesters threw stones and Molotov cocktails, and burned vehicles, while Associated Press (AP) journalists saw riot police firing on protesters," the AP reported.

Ivonne Flores, editor of El Sur, said in an interview with Radio Fórmula that a group of masked men threatened Ramos Zárate and other co-workers on June 18 in order to stop them covering the violence, according to Animal Politico.

The journalist reported that there are no conditions for working in the state of Oaxaca. “We are exposed to all (…) and we cannot do our work, we cannot freely take a photo, cover material as it should be done, to keep society informed,” Flores said, according to Animal Politico.

The National Human Rights Commission of Mexico (CNDH for its initials in Spanish) said it would investigate the journalist's death as well as the injuries of those hurt during the June 19 violence.

Meanwhile, on social networks, journalists from Istmo de Tehuantepec condemned the murder of the journalist and “urged judicial authorities in Oaxaca to clarify the facts,” according to newspaper La Jornada.

In January 2016, Reporters Without Borders noted that the state of Oaxaca, together with Veracruz, is the most violent and dangerous state in Mexico for journalists.

In 2015, Mexico saw an attack against journalists every 22 hours, according to the annual report from freedom of expression organization Article 19 Mexico.


[Ed. note: This story was updated to correct the spelling of the name of the journalist killed in Oaxaca. His name is Elidio Ramos Zárate.]

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.