Journalist couple gunned down in Guerrero, motive not yet established

Husband-and-wife journalists Juan Francisco Rodríguez Ríos, 49, and María Elvira Hernández Galena, 36, were gunned down on 28 June in the Internet café they owned near their home in Coyuca de Benítez, in the southwestern state of Guerrero. Their deaths bring the number of journalists murdered since the start of the year in Mexico to seven (or possibly eight).

Rodríguez was the local correspondent for two dailies, El Sol de Acapulco and Diario Objetivo, while his wife edited Semanario Nueva Línea, a weekly.

“The level of violence against media personnel keeps on mounting in Mexico,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Journalists are continually exposed to threats and physical attacks in the course of their work and live in fear of reprisals. We hope the investigators quickly identify those responsible for this double murder and their motives, and thereby help to end the impunity that prevails in most of these killings. Will the federal authorities now finally break their silence?”

According to local press reports, Rodríguez and Hernández were shot at close range by gunmen who arrived in a black car. Several .38 calibre bullet impacts were found in the Internet café. The couple had two children, aged 17 and 8. The elder witnessed the shooting.

Rodríguez had been a journalist in the Costa Grande region north of Acapulco for the past 20 years and represented his colleagues on the technical committee of the Guerrero state Support Fund for Journalists. A few days ago, he and several dozen fellow journalists and representatives of media organisations participated in an annual convention for Guerrero state journalists in Coyuca de Benítez, during which concern was voiced about the persistent violence against journalists.

He had worked for El Sol de Acapulco for the past five years, providing general coverage of the Costa Grande region. Pedro Arzeta García, the coordinator of the Support Fund for Journalists, said that so far there was nothing that clearly indicated that his murder was linked to his work as a journalist. The Guerrero state prosecutor’s office began an investigation yesterday.

A total of 64 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000, while 11 others have gone missing since 2003.