28 septiembre, 2022

Tijuana photo-journalist killed in front of his house, alleged murderer was a «colleague of sorts»

ALFREDO AZCARATE VARELA
THE BAJA POST/EDITOR

Mexico has become one of the most lethal countries for journalists and for three years in a row, it has had the shameful first place in these sort of crimes, adding up to seven reporters or photographers killed in 2021 and 47 in the last five years, withphoto-journalist Margarito Martinez death being the most recent one, as it hapopened last Mondayu January 17th in Tijuana at about one o´clock.

Margarito was leaving his house, when a car passed by and one of the passengers shot him and then fled, leaving him dead, a Red Cross ambulance arrived as soon as possible but the photographer who was also known as “4-4”, had already passed away.

A small but selected group of reporters and photographers, gathered in front of the State Government building in Mexicali Civic Center, to keep a minute of silence and read a collective statement demanding Governor Marina del Pilar Avila, to solve this sad and frightening crime, the killing of Margarito Martinez must not go unpunished

Tijuana Police Department, almost immediately released a statement, where, with no investigation whatsoever, stated that it had been a “quarrel between neighbors”, which shows little or no respect for the memory of the departed photographer and the will to deny reality: Mexico is lethal for journalists, even more than countries such as Afghanistan and Yemen.

The day went by and in the early hours of Tuesday January 18th a man called Angel “X”, (Mexican criminal Law forbids media to ID the suspects or alleged criminals by surname if they have not been sentenced).

Angel is a so-called “blogger” who has a news outlet web page, so it would be a colleague of sorts for margarita, but they had been arguing in a very violent fashion as of December 13th, with Angel making libelous accusations against the now deceased photographer and even threatening to kill him.

There is what Mexico’s Government calls the “Protection mechanism for journalists and human rights advocates”, which activates when journalists or civil activists are in danger, nevertheless, versions about Margarito applying for it or not are confusing, the fact is that he had no protection after having been threatened by Angel.

 Baja California Governance Secretary (second in hierarchy after Governor Marina del Pilar Avila) said that Margarito had not asked for the mechanism protection, while on the other hand Tijuana journalists assure that he had done so, but now it is too late for arguments, he is dead and the protection mechanism was never activated.

Now it has been announced by Governor Avila, that the mechanism will be activated as of next Monday, January 24th , which comes as an admission of the mechanism being idle and not working when the December incident between Margarito and Angel happened.

Very few reporters showed up to protest against the murder of Margarito Martinez in Tijuana, “one death too many”, Mexico is a country that has become the most lethal and dangerous for those who have chosen the journalistic craft as their “gravy train” but it has become a “deadly ride”.

In a country as Mexico, where the President Lopez Obrador calls the press names every day, where he designs who are his Press Allies and Press Foes, where he attacks journalists and reporters, saying the sell-out, turning people against them, being a journalist is more and more dangerous every day, and the risk of more cases such as Margarito´s happening, are more and more feasible, in a country that has become deadly and hazardous for the Free Press, when the enemy, very often, is concealed behind the high walls of political power.

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