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Mexico25 February 2009

Young radio reporter gunned down in Veracruz state for unclear reasons

Reporters Without Borders is dismayed by radio reporter Luis Daniel Méndez Hernández’s murder on 23 February while he was attending the carnival in Huayacocotla, in the southeastern state of Veracruz. The correspondent of “Enlaces Noticias,” a news programme broadcast on several frequencies by the Radiorama Tuxpan news agency, Méndez was shot four times in the back.

“There are not yet any grounds for concluding that Méndez was killed in connection with his work,” Reporters Without Borders said. “But in view of the great dangers to which the Mexican press is exposed, we join Méndez’s colleagues in urging the police and judicial authorities to quickly shed light on the circumstances and motives for this tragedy and to ensure that journalists are protected. We also offer his family and friends our condolences.”

The shooting seems to have been the result of a dispute between young people but the officials in charge of the investigation say they are still looking out for any signs of a link between Méndez’s murder and his work as a journalist.

Méndez was very involved in local politics and was a candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in the 2007 municipal elections in Huayacocotla. A link between the murder and his political activities cannot therefore be ruled out either. The Veracruz state authorities told the regional daily Cambio that three suspects had been arrested but the investigation was continuing.

Aged 24 and the father of a one-year-old child, Méndez worked as a correspondent in Xalapa (the capital of the state of Veracruz) and in the State Arbitration Commission press department in the city of Veracruz. He had gone to Huayacocotla to celebrate the carnival with his family.

According to the tally kept by the National Human Rights Commission, Méndez is the 47th journalist to be murdered in Mexico since 2000. This figure includes both journalists who were clearly killed in connection with their work and those who were killed for unclear motives.

He is the second journalist to be killed since the start of the year in Mexico. Photographer Jean Paul Ibarra of the local daily El Correo was the victim of a contract-style killing on 13 February in the southern state of Guerrero.

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