RAN 39/10 2 July 2010
The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC) is outraged by the fatal shooting of journalists Juan Francisco Rodríguez Ríos and María Elvira Hernández Galena in Coyuca de Benítez, Guerrero state, on 28 June 2010. Their death brings the number of print journalists killed in Guerrero in 2010 to four and the total for Mexico to seven; three more print journalists have gone missing in Mexico this year. The WiPC calls on the federal and state authorities to investigate the murder of Rodríguez and Hernández as a matter of the utmost urgency, and to bring the culprits to justice.
Husband-and-wife journalists Juan Francisco Rodríguez Ríos (49) and María Elvira Hernández Galena (36) were shot dead in the internet café they owned near their home in Coyuca de Benítez, Guerrero state, on 28 June 2010. They were reportedly shot at close range by two unidentified gunmen who drove up to the café. The couple is survived by their two children, aged 17 and eight; the younger child witnessed the shooting but was not injured.
Rodríguez was the local correspondent for two daily newspapers, El Sol de Acapulco and Diario Objetivo, while Hernández edited the weekly paper Semanario Nueva Línea. Rodríguez had been a journalist in the Costa Grande region, north of Acapulco, for 20 years, and had provided general coverage of the region for El Sol de Acapulco for the past five years. He was also secretary general of the local branch of the National Union of Press Reporters (SNRP) in Coyuca de Benítez as well as a member of the technical committee of the Guerrero state Support Fund for Journalists.
A few days before the shooting, Rodríguez reportedly took part in an annual convention for Guerrero state journalists in Coyuca de Benítez, during which concern was voiced about growing violence against journalists in Mexico.
The Guerrero state prosecutor’s office began an investigation on 29 June. To date the motive for the crime is not known.
Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. Since January 2004, a total of 34 writers – 33 print journalists and one author – have been murdered, while nine other print journalists have disappeared. Few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated or punished. International PEN believes that it is likely that these journalists were targeted in retaliation for their critical reporting, particularly on drug trafficking. While organised crime groups are responsible for many attacks, state agents, especially government officials and the police, are reportedly the main perpetrators of violence against journalists, and complicit in its continuance.
Seven of the killings have occurred in 2010 alone, four of these in Guerrero state. Prior to the murder of Rodríguez and Hernández on 28 June, Jorge Ochoa Martínez, editor and publisher of local newspapers El Oportuno based in Chilpancingo and El Sol de la Costa based in Ayutla de los Libres was shot dead on 29 January, while Evaristo Pacheco Solís, reporter for the weekly newspaper Visión Informativa, was found dead, also in Guerrero state, on 12 March.
•Report by the Inter American Press Association (29 June 2010): http://ifex.org/mexico/2010/06/30/rodriguez_hernandez_asesinados/ (English); http://ifex.org/mexico/2010/06/30/rodriguez_hernandez_asesinados/es/ (Spanish)
•Report by Reporters Without Borders (30 June 2010): http://en.rsf.org/mexico-journalist-couple-gunned-down-in-30-06-2010,37845.html (English), http://es.rsf.org/mexico-asesinan-a-una-pareja-de-30-06-2010,37844.html (Spanish)