Oct 15, 2012

Mexico's drug cartels target journalists in brutal killing spree

The Guardian, Ed Vulliamy

He shakes as he speaks and at moments his eyes fill. "It's certain that the people who killed my colleague were criminals," he says. "The killing had the modus operandi of organised crime. But who sent them and why? That's the question, that's the smokescreen."

This is a colleague of Víctor Manuel Báez Chino, whose mutilated body was found in June in the main square of Xalapa, capital of the Mexican coastal state of Veracruz. Báez was the state's crime editor for an online edition of the national newspaper Milenio and editor of the Police Report website (currently down) which covered crime.

In August, state prosecutors declared the case closed. Witnesses, they said, had identified the bodies of two men killed in a shootout as the same people who had kidnapped the reporter. Báez's circles were "entirely unconvinced", says his colleague.

Báez is one of 56 journalists killed during Mexico's drug war since 2006 (a figure calculated by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists). The war reached a climax last week with the killing by Mexican marines of the leader of the wildest – albeit not the biggest – narco cartel: the paramilitary Zetas, which counts Veracruz, with its strategically crucial gulf port, among its strongholds. Read more. 

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