Mexican Journalists Heber Lopez Vasquez Reported Corruption – The Next Day He Was Dead

Journalism can be quite a dangerous profession. I’m not talking about the average drive by mainstream media water carriers; I’m talking about real journalists. Those who choose to report the truth about influential people are in danger worldwide.

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Heber Lopez Vasquez was one of 13 journalists killed in 2022, the deadliest year on record for reporters in Mexico. Mexico is the second most dangerous country for reporters outside Ukraine, with 15 journalists killed in 2022.

On February 10th, two men in a Dodge pickup pulled up in front of Heber Lopez Vasquez’s tiny radio station in southern Mexico. One man went inside and shot Lopez to death.

One day earlier, Lopez published a story on Facebook accusing local politician Arminda Espinosa Cartas of corruption related to her re-election.

Police were able to capture the pair and arrest them. It turns out that one of the men was the brother of Espinosa.

The out-of-control political corruption and cartel violence have affected Journalists in Mexico.

“I already stopped covering drug trafficking and corruption, and Heber’s death still scares me,” said Hiram Moreno, a veteran Oaxacan journalist who was shot three times in 2019, sustaining injuries in the leg and back, after writing about drug deals by local crime groups. His assailant was never identified.

“You cannot count on the government. Self-censorship is the only thing that will keep you safe.”

Years of this constant violence have created “silence zones” where killing and corruption go unchecked and undocumented.

Since the start of the drug war in 2006, 133 reporters have been killed for their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) determined, and another 13 for unknown reasons.

“In silence zones, people don’t get access to basic information to conduct their lives,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ’s Mexico representative. “They don’t know whom to vote for because there are no corruption investigations. They don’t know which areas are violent, what they can say and not say, so they stay silent.”

The last story Lopez wrote, and one of several he wrote about Espinosa, covered her alleged efforts to get a company constructing a breakwater in Salina Cruz’s port to threaten workers to cast their vote for her re-election or else be fired.

The Mexican government established the Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists to change this.

The Mechanism provides journalists with protections such as panic buttons, surveillance equipment, home police watch, armed guards, and relocation.

Does it work? You be the judge. Since 2017, nine Mechanism-protected reporters have been murdered, CPJ found.

At present, there are 1,600 people enrolled in the Mechanism, including 500 journalists.

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“What type of life is this? “Journalist Rodolfo Montes enrolled in the Mechanism in 2017 had installed cameras with eyes on the garage, street, and entryway.

Years earlier, a cartel rolled a bullet under the door as a threat, and he has been in fear ever since. A box of threats collected over a decade sat in the corner. A cartel threatened his daughter just a few days before; he said, “I’m living, but I’m dead, you know?”


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