- Gumaro Pérez Aguilando was 12th media worker killed this year in Mexico
- ‘Nothing and no one protects us. Criminals have permission to do as they want’
A Mexican journalist has been shot dead while he attended his son’s school Christmas pageant as attacks on the country’s press continue unabated.
Gumaro Pérez Aguilando was attending the school event in the town of Acayucan on Tuesday, when a pair of gunmen burst into the building and killed him in front of a classroom full of schoolchildren, witnesses told local media.
His death marked the 12th murder of a media worker in Mexico in 2017, according to the press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The killing puts Mexico alongside Syria as the most murderous country for journalists, according to RSF.
Pérez covered police matters for several publications and founded the news site La Voz del Sur in the violent city of Acayucan, in Veracruz state, where drug cartel and organised crime activities have been rife. He also worked in the communications department of the local government.
Pérez had not reported any threats against him, said Ana Laura Pérez Mendoza, president of the State Commission for the Care and Protection of Journalists.
He was third journalist murdered in the Acayucan in recent months. Cándido Ríos Vázquez, a reporter with El Diario de Acayucan, was killed with two others outside a convenience store in August, even though he was enrolled in a federal government protection program after receiving threats from a mayor in the region, according to media reports.
A month earlier, photojournalist Edwin Rivera Paz, a Honduran national, was shot and killed by gunmen on a motorcycle in Acayucan, site of a Mexican immigration processing centre. Rivera had fled Honduras earlier in the year after a colleague there was killed.
Veracruz, which stretches along Mexico’s Gulf coast, has become notorious as one of the most dangerous places in the world to work in journalism. At least 19 reporters were murdered there during the 2010-2016 administration of former governor Javier Duarte, who fled Mexico, but was brought back to face corruption accusations in court.
“It continues being the same nightmare,” said Miguel Ángel Díaz, founder of Plumas Libres, an online news site in the state capital Xalapa. “Nothing and no one protects us. Criminals have permission to do as they want.”
Despite promises of action from the authorities several high-profile killings of journalists in 2017 have brought no charges or convictions.
Miroslava Breach, who covered criminal activities in northern Chihuahua state, was shot dead in March as she drove her child to school. One of the publications she contributed to, the newspaper Norte in Ciudad Juárez, subsequently closed, with the owner citing journalist safety as a motive.
Javier Valdez, founder of the newsweekly Ríodoce in western Sinaloa state, was pulled from his car and shot in the street as he left his office in May.
Pérez’s murder comes as Mexico remains convulsed with violence. The country recorded 20,878 homicides over the first 10 months of 2017, making it the most murderous year since the government began tracking such data in 1997.