Reporters Without Borders today voiced its dismay at the murder of journalist Armando Rodriguez, of El Diario, the largest privately-owned daily in Ciudad Juarez, northern Mexico, who was shot dead outside his home yesterday.
Rodriguez, aged 40, became the latest victim in a bloody war between the country’s major drug cartels which is centred on Ciudad Juarez, in Chihuahua State, with more than 1,300 casualties since the start of the year.
The journalist, a crime specialist for the past 14 years, was leaving his home to drive his eight year old daughter to school when an unidentified gunman ambushed and shot him dead at point blank range before running to a nearby vehicle where accomplices were waiting.
Editor of El Diario, Pedro Torres, told Reporters Without Borders that Rodriguez had received a threatening message on his mobile phone in February 2008 telling him to “tone it down”. As a result, he was transferred to El Paso for two months for his safety but on his return he had insisted on resuming work without any special protection.
“First of all we want to voice our solidarity with Armando Rodriguez’s family in their grief for this vile crime that plunges Mexico yet further into the terror of the war of the cartels,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
“This crime specialist was in the front line of this savage conflict, which has made Mexico one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists”.
“We welcome the authorities’ decision to take on this case through the federal prosecutor’s office. We hope that the inquiry will swiftly identify the killers and those who sent them, thus showing the government’s determination to effectively fight the impunity that sadly so often prevails in Mexico”, it concluded.
The journalist’s colleagues are convinced that the murder was linked to his work but have not been able to link it to any particular reports. However Carlos Huerta Munoz, a reporter on the local daily El Norte, pointed out that Rodriguez had on the previous day reported on the killing of two local police officers. A severed head had also been found on 6 November on a monument in the Journalist’s Square in the centre of Ciudad Juarez, which the city’s media took to be a direct threat against them.