Mexican Journalist's Death Has Two Versions
“I grieve for you, Goyo. For a minute we thought that we would find you alive, that for the first time we had managed to save a journalist from death. The Federal Attorney must investigate,” renowned Mexican journalist Marcela Turati posted on Twitter.
Turati's words are both a lament for Mexican journalist Gregorio Jimenez de la Cruz and an incrimination of the Mexican government. Jimenez, who covered the police beat – including kidnappings, abductions, and crime for Notisur and El Liberal in Veracruz – was kidnapped and found dead on February 11th. For a brief moment of hope and relief, rumors rapidly spread on social media that he had been found alive.
The Mexican journalist had written an article after the disappearance of Ernesto Ruiz Guillen, the leader of Mexico’s largest labor union, Workers Confederation. Following his kidnapping by five armed men, Jimenez’s body was found buried next to Guillen’s. Jimenez is reported to have considered the labor leader a friend and had been investigating his disappearance, which had occurred several weeks earlier.
Authorities have claimed that Jimenez’s murder was the result of a personal vendetta between him and a local bar owner, Teresa de Jesus Hernandez, who reportedly hired a group of hit men to kill him. Journalists, however, have vehemently protested the authorities’ story, certain that Jimenez’s journalistic work is connected to his death. The troubling discrepancy is increasingly common. Last year, we wrote about journalist Regina Hernandez, also of Veracruz, who was strangeld to death in her bathroom. She covered organized crime and corruption for Proseco, a publication that has dared to dig into dangerous issues. Her death sparked outrage and a national demonstration by journalists.
In the case of Jimenez, his daughter relates an account supporting the journalist’s suspicions. She says that the dispute between her father and Hernandez came to blows after Jimenez wrote a story about a man getting stabbed outside of Hernandez’s bar on September 24. She reportedly threatened to have him killed by members of the notorious Zetas drug cartel.
There are further unconfirmed reports of the shoddy nature of the investigation into Jimenez's murder by local authorities. Since 2010, Jimenez is at least the 12th journalist slain or missing in Veracruz. Mexico has a history of impunity against journalists and is ranked seventh in the Committee to Project Journalists 2013 Impunity Index. While journalists throughout Mexico have organized protests since the murder demanding justice and a proper investigation, the prospects look dishearteningly bleak.
In response to the violence they face, two Mexico-based journalists, Ela Stapley and Deigo Mendiburu, are working on an Android app to help give journalists in high-risk areas better access to support networks. The app, Hancel, connects journalists to a preselected list of contacts and NGOs working to defend freedom of expression.