Mexican journalist takes his life after being threatened and beaten

By Diego Cruz

On Wednesday, March 26, four weeks after being kidnapped, beaten and threatened as a result of content published in a magazine he directed, Mexican journalist Gilberto Moreno Fontes took his own life in his home in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, according to news agency Proceso.

Friends and colleagues described Moreno as depressed following the kidnapping, where he was beaten and threatened so he would stop publishing his critical magazine, Un Atorón Tamaulipeco (“A Jam in Tamaulipas” in English). On Wednesday, after saying goodbye to his family, Moreno locked himself in the bathroom and shot himself in the head.

The journalist was an engineer with masters and doctorate degrees, but his work in the magazine focused on publishing caustic criticisms of local government officials from the municipality of Nuevo Laredo. His friends and colleagues told Proceso he did not publish any content related to organized crime.

Moreno had been previously assaulted for the content published in his magazine. In a council meeting during the administration of mayor Benjamín Galván, councilwoman Yallelh Abdala Carmona hit the journalist for publishing content criticizing her, according to the website Hoy Tamaulipas.

Nuevo Laredo's City Council determined the magazine was defaming government officials and councilmembers without providing evidence for its claims, adding that it published cartoons with highly sexual content and obscene messages. The City Council prohibited its distribution during political events and in the municipal offices, according to Proceso.

Moreno also wrote a column called Reflexiones Políticas (“Political Reflections”) for the newspaper Primera Hora, for which he received an award.

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.