Mexican journalist who reported on crime and security is beaten to death in Tamaulipas

Mexican journalist Héctor González Antonio was found dead on May 29 in Ciudad Victoria, capital of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, according to local authorities.

The head of the Attorney General's Office of Tamaulipas, Irving Barrios Mojica, said in an interview with journalist Carmen Aristegui that González Antonio's body was found in a street near his home in Colonia Estrella and that the first investigations indicate that the journalist was attacked by at least two people who beat him to death with stones.

González Antonio went missing the night before his body was found, according to newspaper Expreso.

Barrios Mojica said that the strongest line of investigation so far is that the murder was due to robbery or a brawl, and said there are not enough elements to indicate that it was an execution by organized crime.

"However, we do not rule out –and this will be told by the continuity of the investigations– any of the other hypotheses," he told Aristegui. "In fact, given the nature of the journalistic work we do not rule out that (the murder) could be derived from it. Hence, the Attorney General's Office is supporting the study of analysis of editorial context to see if the publications, what was the magnitude of risk of publications or the journalistic work of Mr. Héctor González."

Barrios Mojica said that the Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists has been activated and is already collaborating with the Special Prosecutor’s Office for the Attention of Crimes Committed against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) at the federal level.

González Antonio was a correspondent for the national chain Grupo Imagen, and in particular, newspaper Excélsior. He also worked for local media such as  El Diario de Victoria and the newspaper Expreso.

The journalist covered security, justice and drug trafficking. In January of this year, he published an article about the murder of another journalist from Tamaulipas, Carlos Domínguez. He also wrote about blockades set up by drug traffickers and shootings that occurred in several cities of the state.

"With immense pain, I share the news of the murder of my colleague Héctor González Antonio, a magnificent person, correspondent of Excelsior and Grupo Imagen in Tamaulipas," wrote Pascal Beltrán del Río, director of Excelsior, on his Twitter account. "A hug of solidarity for his family. I join the demand to clarify this case soon and to do justice."

A wake was held for González Antonio on the morning of May 30. State police guarded the funeral home, according to Excelsior.

The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) of Mexico urged authorities to investigate whether the murder of González Antonio was linked to his work as a journalist and called for precautionary measures for his family.

The state government has activated protocols to protect family members, according to Expreso. The governor of Tamaulipas and the attorney general expressed their condolences and pledged to investigate the case and find those responsible.

According to the CNDH, 136 journalists have been killed in Mexico since the year 2000.

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.

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