Journalist killed in Mexico, 7th slain so far this year

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A journalist was killed Friday in the Mexican state of Zacatecas, the seventh slain in the country so far this year and the latest to cause indignation not only at home but abroad and even in the U.S. government.

Zacatecas, Gov. David Monreal confirmed the killing of Juan Carlos Muñiz, who covered crime for the online news site Testigo Minero in Fresnillo.

Alfredo Valadez, also a journalist, said Muñiz also drove a taxi in the city to make ends meet.

The Zacatecas state prosecutor’s office said via Twitter it had opened an investigation and would follow protocols for cases that could be crimes against freedom of expression.

Zacatecas is one of Mexico’s most violent states. In January, the bodies of eight men and two women were found crammed into a pickup truck left before dawn near a Christmas tree in the main plaza of the state capital, also named Zacatecas.

The state is the scene of a bloody struggle for control between the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels, along with local allies.

Fresnillo lies about 37 miles (60 kilometers) northwest of the state capital and is the state’s second largest city. It has a long history as a mining center.

One of the websites Muñiz wrote for, the Miners' Witness in English, said in a statement that “the cowardly murder of our friend and companion has caused shock among the majority of the public in Fresnillo and the state, as well as in journalistic circles.”

The site said “this social breakdown has wounded our state and our city, and is out of control.”

Mexico has for years been one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists. The pace of killings this year has been shocking and even drew an expression of concern from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month.

Journalists are often the targets of Mexico’s drug cartels, which seek to intimidate and manipulate coverage of their activities and their rivals. Local politicians and government officials are also frequently linked to murders, according to the government, which has noted that impunity in those killings runs above 90%.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has promised there will not be impunity in the killings, while at the same time regularly attacking journalists critical of his administration.

In February, the Inter American Press Association called on the president to “immediately suspend the aggressions and insults, because such attacks from the top of power encourage violence against the press.”

Jorge Camero, the director of an online news site who was until recently a municipal functionary in the northern Mexico state of Sonora, was killed in late February.

In early February, Heber López, director of the online news site Noticias Web, was shot to death in the southern state of Oaxaca.

Roberto Toledo, a camera operator and video editor for the online site Monitor Michoacan, was shot Jan. 31 as he prepared for an interview in the western state of Michoacan.

Reporter Lourdes Maldonado López was found shot to death inside her car in Tijuana on Jan. 23.

Crime photographer Margarito Martínez was gunned down outside his Tijuana home on Jan. 17.

Reporter José Luis Gamboa was killed in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz on Jan. 10.