More Mexican reporters flee state of Veracruz after Zetas claim responsibility for killing of latest journalist

Authorities in the Mexican state of Veracruz, the most dangerous place in the country for journalists, reported that the criminal cartel Los Zetas claimed responsibility for the killing of a reporter from the newspaper Milenio, Víctor Báez, who was killed June 14, according to Univision.

According to other journalists in Veracruz, Báez's body was found with signs of torture and a warning that said that this month is going to be the worst for reporters,” reported the newspaper Vanguardia. At the beginning of June, a list circulated with names of journalists at risk if they continued working or living in Veracuz.

Forty-seven days have passed since the government committed to open all lines of investigation and use all of the law's resources to solve the killing of journalist Regina Martínez in April; since then, another four journalists have been killed in Veracruz, according to the freedom of expression organization Article 19. In total, nine journalists have been killed in Veracruz in the last 18 months.

Journalists in Veracruz aren't just killed, but also tortured and dismembered," said a Veracruz photographer who requested asylum in the United States during the 10th Austin Forum on Journalism in the Americas.

Press organizations denounced the absolute impunity that prevails in crimes against journalists in Veracruz, according to Radio Formula.

Báez was the director of the news site Reporteros Policiacos and editor of the newspaper Milenio in Veracruz, both of which published stories about organized crime.

Mexican governmental secretary Alejandro Poiré said that the government is about to publish a law offering effective mechanisms to protect threatened journalists, reported Milenio. The state government of Veracruz also announced that is is creating a state commission to protect journalists, reported Article 19.

“No one understands what is happening in Mexico, a country with strong institutions and millions of resources that allows the killing and silencing of journalists,” wrote journalist Marcela Turatti, founder of the organization Periodistas de a Pie, after she participated in the Austin Forum.

Currently, representatives from the Veracruz commission for journalists, the National Human Rights Commission, and organizations like Article 19 and Periodistas de a Pie are contacting reporters in Veracruz to offer them support and protection, reported Milenio. Still, a new wave of journalists is fleeing the state.

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.