Mexico mourns slain journalist in Sinaloa

Separate attacks in Western Mexico leave renowned Mexican journalist, Javier Valdez Cárdenas, dead, while local magazine executive, Sonia Córdova, remains severely injured
Journalists and photographers protest at the Angel of Independence Monument, Mexico City, where they have wrote "We are being killed in Mexico", while photos of journalists slain this year form the words "No to Silence"- Photo: Henry Romero/REUTERS
Newsroom & Reuters
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A Mexican reporter renowned for coverage of organized crime was killed in the lawless Pacific state of Sinaloa and gunmen attacked an executive of a small weekly magazine on Monday, as authorities struggle to contain renewed bloodshed between drug cartels.

Javier Valdez Cárdenas was killed when assailants opened fire on his car in the state capital, Culiacán, according to RíoDoce, the weekly media outlet he co-founded and where he worked.

Valdéz is the fifth journalist killed this year,  making Mexico one of the deadliest countries for journalism at a time when murder rates are at their highest since the peak of the drug war in 2011.

In Autlán, in the neighboring state of Jalisco that is the territory of the ascendant Jalisco New Generation Cartel, gunmen opened fire on Sonia Córdova, an executive at the Semanario Costeño weekly magazine.

Córdova was wounded and taken to hospital, while her adult son was killed in the attack, the State Prosecutor's Office said.

A state police source said her son, Jonathan Rodríguez Córdova, worked as a reporter at the family-run magazine, which publishes local news that includes some crime reporting.

Autlán is best known as the birthplace of rock musician Carlos Santana.


Valdez was one of Mexico's most well-known, and loved, chroniclers of the drug war, winning the International Press Freedom Award from watchdog group the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in 2011 for his prolific coverage of trafficking and organized crime.

News of his slaying shook Mexico's journalism community, already alarmed by a spike in attacks against the media this year. Mexico is one of the most dangerous places to be a journalist, with the vast majority of attacks on the media unpunished.

Valdez also contributed dispatches to the national daily La Jornada and published a book last year about the dangers facing journalists who report honestly on the rampant crime and corruption gripping Mexico: "Narcoperiodismo".

Mexican and foreign journalists paid homage to Valdez on social media, describing him as a courageous writer and generous friend whose killers must be brought to justice to deter future slayings.

British author Ioan Grillo said on Twitter:

Photographs from Sinaloa showed Valdez's body in the middle of a street, the brimmed hat he often wore lying among a dozen yellow markers for bullets.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Roberta Jacobson, condemned Valdez's killing.

"We condemn the murder of Javier Valdez, founder of Río Doce. Fifth journalist killed in 2017 and sixth in Sinaloa since 2000."

"Javier Valdez won the International Press Freedom Award in 2011. Today, he was murdered."

Ambassador Jacobson also regretted the attack on Sonia Córdova: "Yesterday's attack against Sonia Córdova and her son in Jalisco is deeply regrettable."

Mexico's Special Federal Prosecutor's Office for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) said it had started the procedure for opening an inquiry and was sending a team to collect evidence.

"The state must respond to these circumstances," said Sinaloa prosecutor Juan José Ríos at a rowdy news conference. Journalists shouted questions asking what would prevent them from being next.

The special prosecutor's office rarely opens probes into the killing of journalists, leaving the job instead to local authorities, according to the CPJ.

"Javier's murder is an attack on independent journalism not just in Sinaloa, but in Mexico as a whole," said CPJ's Mexico representative Jan-Albert Hootsen.



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