August 3, 2019 / 5:34 PM / 6 months ago

Murder of Mexican journalist marks third killing in one week, amid spiraling violence

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican officials said on Saturday they would investigate the murder of a journalist in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz who was the third reporter to be killed in a week in Mexico as the country grapples with a record murder rate.

Jorge Ruiz Vazquez, a reporter at the Grafico de Xalapa newspaper in Veracruz’s capital, died in spite of procedures in place to protect him, the state prosecutor’s office said.

“The prosecutor will investigate why protection measures granted to the victim and his family, which were active, were not enforced,” the entity said in a statement.

Ruiz’s death brings the murder toll of Mexican journalists this year to at least eight compared with nine last year, according to free-speech advocacy group Article 19.

A reporter in Guerrero state who also served as a municipal official was shot and killed on Friday, while earlier last week, a reporter who covered the police in the same state was found dead in the trunk of a vehicle with signs he had been shot and tortured.

Murders in Mexico jumped in the first half of the year to the highest on record, according to official data. The spiraling violence underscores the challenges President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has faced since taking office in December with a vow to reduce violence in the country ravaged by notorious drug cartels.

Ruiz had reported death threats in October and November of 2018, said Ana Laura Perez, president of Veracruz’s commission to protect journalists (CEAPP), in an interview with Veracruz news outlet XEU Noticias.

She added that Ruiz had been shot and killed at his home in a municipality near Xalapa.

Veracruz’s governor, Cuitlahuac Garcia, said on Friday evening that efforts had already begun to find the people responsible for Ruiz’s death.

“We condemn the cowardly murder of a reporter from a local outlet, Jorge Ruiz,” he said on Twitter. “His killing will not go unpunished.”

Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon and Diego Ore; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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