MEXICO CITY — A veteran journalist who had chronicled the bloody conflicts among rival drug cartels in his home state, Sinaloa, and the culture of violence they inflicted on the broader society, was killed by gunmen on Monday near the newspaper that he had co-founded, the authorities said.
The journalist, Javier Valdez Cárdenas, 50, was in his car when he was intercepted by the killers, according to Ríodoce, a weekly he founded with Ismael Bojórquez in the city of Culiacán in 2003.
At least 104 journalists have been murdered in Mexico since 2000, while 25 others have disappeared, according to the press freedom organization Article 19.
The death of Mr. Valdez, who had shared prizes from Columbia University and the Committee to Protect Journalists, raises pressure on the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto to address the killings more forcefully.Continue reading the main story
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All but a handful of the killings and abductions remain unsolved. That is true of most such crimes in Mexico, but press advocates say pervasive corruption and impunity have helped make the country one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist.
Mr. Peña Nieto condemned the killing on Twitter and the attorney general’s office said its special prosecutor for crimes against freedom of expression would investigate. Mr. Peña Nieto replaced the special prosecutor this month because of the office’s abysmal record in solving cases.
Mr. Valdez, who also worked for the Mexico City daily La Jornada, became the sixth journalist killed this year. The murders are often believed to be the work of drug gangs, or of corrupt politicians who may be allied with the gangs or involved in other criminal activities.
“This comes as a huge surprise; we are all very angry and appalled,” said Adrian López, general director of Noroeste, another independent newspaper in Culiacán, which like Ríodoce has been the target of frequent attacks.
“However shocking, we know it is impunity that allows this violence and all these murders to happen, because there is no cost to killing here, and killing journalists even less so,” he said.
Ríodoce had built a reputation over the years for its coverage of the drug war from its front lines in Sinaloa. From there the cartel leader Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known as El Chapo, ran what was the world’s most powerful narcotics racket. Mr. Guzmán is being held in New York awaiting trial.
After word of Mr. Valdez’s murder spread, his Twitter message about the death of a La Jornada colleague, Miroslava Breach, who was fatally shot in front of her teenage son in the northern state of Chihuahua on March 23, was repeated many times.
“Let them kill us all, if the sentence for covering this hell is death,” he wrote. “No to silence.”