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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Journalists, organizations skeptical of authorities’ account of colleague’s killing in Veracruz, Mexico




Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz.

After finding the body of Mexican reporter Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz on Feb. 11, Veracruz state authorities said the kidnapping and killing were likely motivated by personal vengeance -- something other journalists are finding hard to believe, the Associated Press reported.

Jiménez de la Cruz, who had been a police-beat reporter for media outlets Notisur and Liberal del Sur, was kidnapped by a group of armed men near his home in the municipality of Coatzacoalcos.

According to state government spokeswoman Gina Domínguez, the four men who were arrested said one of Jiménez de la Cruz’s neighbors, Teresa de Jesús Hernández Cruz, had paid them to kidnap and kill him. Hernández Cruz had threatened the reporter three months prior following a conflict between her son and Jiménez de la Cruz’s daughter, who had been romantically involved.

However, many journalists doubt this conclusion because the reporter’s body was found alongside the corpse of Ernesto Ruiz Guillen, a union leader whose kidnapping Jiménez de la Cruz had covered before disappearing.

“There has to be a serious investigation because he often looked into disappearances, crimes and kidnappings," said journalist Gregorio Hernández to the AP.

In an interview with Animal Político, Jiménez de la Cruz’s wife, Carmela Hernández, said their neighbor Hernández Cruz, who also owned a local bar named “El Mamey,” had threatened her husband due to articles he had written reporting homicides that had occurred in her bar.

The official account of events provided by the authorities also worried several international organizations who asked them not to stop investigating the killing and its possible connection to the reporter’s journalistic work.

"While we welcome any progress in the investigation of Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz's murder, it is worrisome that authorities so quickly dismissed the possibility of a link to his work," said Carlos Lauría, senior program coordinator for the Americas at the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ).

Freedom of expression organization Article 19 asked Veracruz state authorities to not ignore the possibility that the killing was related to Jiménez de la Cruz’s work as a journalist, since they had received information months prior that a criminal group had given orders to threaten media in the state’s southern region.

Spokeswoman Domínguez said the authorities had not discarded the possibility that Jiménez de la Cruz had been killed due to this work, saying the investigation had not closed yet and that his profession was relevant to it.

Jiménez de la Cruz is the twelfth journalist to disappear or be killed in Veracruz since 2010. In three of these cases the authorities concluded the crimes were due to personal motives.



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