Prominent Mexican Journalist Joins A Long List Of Those Killed

May 16, 2018
Originally published on May 16, 2018 9:53 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

All right - in Mexico, another sad moment for journalism and press freedom. Yesterday, a well-known radio and television host was gunned down in the Gulf state of Tabasco. While officials insist they will find the journalist's killers, press advocates point out that Mexico is one of the world's most dangerous places for reporters, rivaling war zones like Syria. From Mexico City, here's NPR's Carrie Kahn.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Juan Carlos Huerta was well-known in Tabasco, a staple of morning drive-time radio as well as a TV news show host. Yesterday morning as he was driving from his home in the capital Villahermosa, three men in a dark car cut him off. According to state officials, one man ran out and shot Huerta several times before fleeing. A female passenger survived the attack. Tabasco's governor, Arturo Nunez, vowed to catch Huerta's killers.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

ARTURO NUNEZ JIMENEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "Juan Carlos was a leading communicator in this field, and I can say he was a friend. I'm deeply saddened," said the governor, speaking with reporters.

Demonstrations denouncing the attacks on Mexico's journalists took place throughout the country yesterday. The protests had been planned to mark the one-year anniversary of the murder of one of Mexico's most respected journalists Javier Valdez. Valdez wrote prolifically about organized crime violence in his home state of Sinaloa. He was gunned down in broad daylight not far from his newspaper's offices in the capital Culiacan last May. Only one suspect has been arrested in the case.

In Culiacan, protesters marched demanding justice for Valdez yesterday. Popular Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui, speaking at a local university, told the crowd that prosecutors must do their jobs professionally, efficiently and with the utmost transparency.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CARMEN ARISTEGUI: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "If they don't, then what is going to happen is journalists and others will continue to be murdered while the country is ripped apart by this impunity," she said.

Protesters demanding justice for Javier Valdez unraveled a banner at the base of a famous pyramid outside Mexico City. Others painted red the Mexican side of the border wall in Tijuana, decrying violence against journalists. According to the press advocacy group Article 19, five journalists have been murdered in Mexico so far this year, more than 30 killed since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in 2012. Nearly all the cases remain unsolved and are believed to have been committed by organized crime gangs, state officials or both.

Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.