San Miguel PEN Laments Journalists’ Deaths

By Bob Broughton

In collaboration with the Sala Literaria, the San Miguel Center of PEN International will observe the Day of the Dead by setting up an altar in memory of Mexican journalists murdered during the past year. This is part of a Latin America-wide effort by PEN International, an organization dedicated to literacy, freedom of the press, and the protection of endangered journalists. We publish here the names and a brief mention of the accomplishments or the circumstances of their deaths of these writers, reporters, and cameramen not to sensationalize, but to shine a light on the problem and the extreme danger these courageous souls face while attempting to perform their duties.

The journalists to be commemorated include Juan Carlos Hernández Ríos, of nearby Yuriria. Slain as he left his home by two assassins carrying large caliber weapons, Hernández Ríos was a photographer and editorial assistant for an online publication; he supplemented his income by driving a taxi.

Other journalists working for regional newspapers or magazines include Jonathan Rodríguez Córdova of Autlán de Navarro, Jalisco, a reporter for the weekly magazine El Costeño. Cecilio Pineda Birto, of Guerrero state, was a correspondent for La Jornada and El Universal newspapers out of Mexico City as well as the regional papers Despertar del Sur and the weekly La Voz de Tierra Caliente. Ricardo Monlui Cabrera, of Yanga, Veracruz, was head of the Cordoba region’s press association and was a columnist for several regional newspapers as well as the magazine Analysis Politico. Luciano Rivera Salgado worked as a news anchor for CNR Noticias Canal 54 and was an editor of Dictamen, which publishes news about Rosarito and Tijuana, Baja California.

Maximinio Rodríguez Palacios of La Paz was a crime reporter and former head of media relations for the Baja California Sur State Attorney General’s Office. He was gunned down in the middle of the day outside a store in La Paz, BCS. Javier Valdez Cárdenas, of Culiacán, Sinaloa, was the author of an extensive body of work about drug trafficking and violence. He also edited the award-winning weekly Rio Doce and was a correspondent for La Jornada.

A Chihuahua correspondent for La Jornada newspaper, Miroslava Breach Velducea was shot eight times in her vehicle. One of her children, also in the car, thankfully escaped physical harm.

Kidnapped on May 18, the body of Salvador Pardo Adame, founder and CEO of the Canal 4TV news portal in Michoacán, was found six weeks later. Edwin Rivera Paz, a Honduran video journalist who had sought asylum in Mexico, was shot to death in Acayucan, Veracruz.

Human rights activists killed include Juan José Roldán Ávila, a Tlaxcala television reporter and gay rights activist. Marcela de Jesús Natalia, an indigenous community activist from Guerrero state, was shot twice and killed as she left her job at the Guerrero Radio and Television station.

A cameraman for the now-defunct Canal 10 of La Paz, Baja California Sur, Javier Lucero was in the middle of a live broadcast in the parking lot of a Home Depot when he was fatally gunned down. Cándido Ríos Vásquez, of Veracruz, was supposed to be safeguarded by the Mexican government’s Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists program when he was killed at a gas station in August of 2017.

The latest victim of the devastating attack on Mexican journalists was Edgar Daniel Esqueda Castro, a photographer covering crime and society in San Luis Potosí state. He was abducted from his home on October 5 by men dressed as police officers, and his body found the next day near the airport.

We encourage you visit the altar of the San Miguel de Allende center of PEN International to pay homage to these brave individuals who have given their lives and endangered their families in the pursuit of journalistic freedom. The PEN altar will share space with many others in the heart of San Miguel’s centro histórico beginning October 31.

 

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