Photographers gather in Mexico City to support family of murdered colleague

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  • October 20, 2015

By Lorenzo Holt

Photographers from around the world donated their work to support the family of photojournalist and colleague Rubén Espinosa who was killed almost three months ago in Mexico City.

FotorreporterosMX, a collective among which Espinosa had colleagues, organized the auction that took place on Oct. 17 at Mexico City’s Museum of Memory and Tolerance. It raised over 200,000 Mexican pesos (about USD $12,000) for Espinosa’s family.

The auction, titled FotoXRubén, featured over 130 framed photographs donated by Mexican and international photographers. Freedom House, Reporteros sin Fronteras, Artículo 19, Amnesty International, and other local and international groups supported the event, according to Proceso.

“FotoXRubén was, more than an auction, a collective action in his memory,” Tweeted digital site Kaja Negra, which covered the event.

Kaja Negra quoted event organizer Sashenka Gutierrez from the event: “Rubén was not unlike most Mexican photographers who survive without a contract and earn by the photo, day by day, to help himself and his parents survive. That is why we are here today, to give back as a society that which he gave us as a photographer.”

More than 200 people attended the auction, which, according to Emeequis, lasted three hours. There was fierce and friendly bidding over the photographs that drew cheers and applause from the crowd and raised far more money than the organizers’ 80,000 peso goal.

Ninety percent of the money raised will be donated to Espinosa’s family while the remaining 10 percent will be used to fund an exposition of his work intended to honor him as a journalist and help gain clarity into his murder, according to reports on the auction. At the moment, three people are held in custody in connection to Espinosa’s murder on July 31, 2015, but there is no clear motive.

One photo, which shows a smiling boy chasing pigeons with his arms spread, was sold for 6,600 pesos – roughly the equivalent of $400. This photograph was selected by Espinosa’s family and was the only photo at the auction taken by Espinosa himself, according to Emeequis. The outlet reported that Espinosa's family said they picked it because they thought it represented him.

“I decided to come to the auction to show support for the organization but also as a citizen fed up with the violence,” said Mexican reporter Natalia Cano, according to the Panama Post.

FotorreporterosMx also organized a FotoXGoyo event in 2014 to help the family of Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz, a journalist and photographer abducted and killed in Veracruz that same year, according to Proceso.

Both Espinosa and de La Cruz were killed as part of a wider spate of unpunished murders in Mexico and Latin America. Four journalists were killed in Mexico in 2015 alone, ranking the country as the seventh most deadly country for journalists according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Worldwide, in nine out of ten of cases of killings of journalists, the culprits go unpunished.

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.