Three Latin American countries among deadliest for journalists in 2014

Paraguay, Brazil and Mexico placed in the top 20 deadliest countries for journalists in 2014, according to a special year-end report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

The database numbers provided by CPJ tally the deaths of journalists in which the motive for the killing was directly work-related.

Paraguay, which has seen violent activity in the region bordering Brazil, leads all other Latin American countries with three journalists killed in 2014.

In the most recent case, Pablo Medina Velázquez, regional correspondent for newspaper daily ABC Color, was shot multiple times in the northeastern Canindeyú department while on assignment. An assistant was also killed in the attack.

Medina covered marijuana production and drug trafficking in eastern Paraguay and editors said he frequently received threats because of his work. His brother and fellow journalist, Salvador Medina, was killed in the same region in 2001 because of his work.

Paraguayan radio journalists Fausto Gabriel Alcaraz Garay of Radio Amambay and Edgar Pantaleón Fernández Fleitas of Belén Comunicaciones were also shot and killed along the Brazilian border in May and June, respectively.

CPJ reported that Alcaraz often denounced crime and drug trafficking on his radio program. Fernández, who was also a lawyer, hosted a radio program critical of local judges, lawyers and officials in the Attorney General’s office, according to the organization.

CPJ confirmed that two journalists in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro were killed due to their work, though the circumstances surrounding the case of cameraman Santiago Ilídio Andrade vary from the other deaths on this list in that it occurred during a protest, which were particularly dangerous environments for Brazilian journalists this year.

During a February protest in Rio de Janeiro concerning bus fare increases, an explosive struck Andrade in the head. The cameraman for Bandeirantes TV was confirmed brain-dead shortly after.

Also in February, Pedro Palma, owner of newspaper Panorama Regional, was shot and killed in front of his home in the rural town of Miguel Pereira.

In Mexico, CPJ confirmed that two journalists were killed in 2014 because of their work. Newspaper reporter Octavio Rojas Hernández, who had recently started working for El Buen Tono in Córdoba, Veracruz, was shot outside his home in Oaxaca in August. According to the publication’s news director, the killing was related to a story that linked a municipal police director to a gas theft ring.

Again, in Veracruz, reporter Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz was killed after being abducted in February by armed men near Coatzacoalcos. Jiménez followed crime and security beats for newspapers Notisur and Liberal del Sur, according to CPJ.

If previous trends of impunity continue with regard to murders of journalists in the region, identification and prosecution of assailants in most of these cases are unlikely to take place. In CPJ’s 2014 Global Impunity Index, Mexico and Brazil rank 7th and 10th, respectively. Latin American counterpart Colombia is at number 5.

The cases above tally deaths in which CPJ has been able to confirm that the motive for the killing was linked to the journalists’ work.

Listed below are additional cases of Latin American journalist deaths which are not included in CPJ’s numbers for killings with confirmed motives. Some are being investigated by CPJ and others have been deemed work-related by other organizations like Reporters Without Borders. We’ve also included killings of journalists and media workers covered this year on the Knight Center’s Journalism in the America’s blog in which no motive has been determined.






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.