Journalist Heber López Vásquez, 39, was shot to death this Thursday in the port of Salina Cruz, in the state of Oaxaca, southern Mexico, according to family members who told EFE. The crime is the fifth murder that occurs in Mexico against journalists so far in 2022.
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López Vásquez was director of the Noticias Web portal and his death has been confirmed by his brother Irving López Vásquez, who also works as a communicator.
So far the motive for the crime is unknown and, according to reports from the Salina Cruz municipal police, there are already two people in custody.
It’s a statement, the Attorney General of the state of Oaxaca (FGEO) has reported that it is investigating the two detainees “for their probable responsibility” in the murder of the journalist. They have reported that after the attack, the probable perpetrators fled, but the municipal police of Salina Cruz detained them and confiscated a firearm.
López Vásquez was shot five times in his office, located in the center of the city, around 8:00 p.m. local time this Thursday. The place remains guarded by agents of the National Guard and the State Investigation Agency (AEI).
Irving López Vásquez has said that his brother “was with his son when he was murdered”, while demanding justice for his crime.
According to the organization Article 19, the journalist had denounced attacks against him in 2019 by a security guard of the then mayor of Salina Cruz, Juan Carlos Atecas. According to the organization, López Vásquez covered topics about the municipal government and police, as well as irregularities in the federal government’s breakwater project in Salina Cruz.
Last Tuesday, the governor of Oaxaca, Alejandro Murat, headed a Security Roundtable at the Ixtepec military installations to coordinate actions to guarantee peace and tranquility in the region.
From January 2015 to December 2021, the Ombudsman for the Human Rights of the People of Oaxaca (DDHPO) has opened 288 investigations derived from complaints related to violations of the rights of journalists.
Mexico, considered the deadliest country for the press in the Western Hemisphere, is experiencing unprecedented violence at the beginning of 2022 due to the murder of at least five journalists, two of them in Tijuana, on the border with the United States.
Last Sunday, the murder of Ernesto Islas Flores was recorded in Tijuana, who was editor of the Notiredes portal in that border city and whose father and uncle are journalists.
This Wednesday, the Mexican government announced the arrest of three suspects involved in the murder of journalist Lourdes Maldonado, which occurred on January 23 and whose death in Tijuana sparked a national mobilization against violence against the press.
Maldonado’s murder shook the country because in March 2019 he had publicly requested protection from the president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, due to a legal problem he had with Jaime Bonilla, former governor of Baja California of the ruling National Regeneration Movement (Morena).
Not counting yet the case of this Thursday in Oaxaca, the NGO Article 19 has recorded 149 journalists killed for their work from 2000 to now, 29 of them during López Obrador’s term, which began in December 2018.
After a crime in December 2018 and 10 in 2019, the country registered seven homicides of communicators in 2020 and another 7 in 2021 and the four occurred in January 2022.