03/07/13 – Jaime Guadalupe González Domínguez (38) the reporter and director of online newspaper Ojinaga Noticias was assassinated on Sunday, March 3, 2013, at about 6:30 p.m. near the intersection of the streets Trasviña y Retes, in Ojinaga, Chihuahua. According to Univisión, reports indicate that Domínguez was allegedly attacked by a group of armed gunmen, and was shot at 18 times at point blank range. The occurrence is believed to have taken place while Domínguez was thought to be making his way back to the Ojinaga offices, where he was expected to deliver notes and images he had captured on his camera. The assailants, according to these reports, were particularly interested in Domínguez’s digital camera, which they wrestled away from him after firing their weapons. Witnesses claim that nothing else was stolen during the attack. The public prosecutor has yet to confirm any of these details as investigations are still ongoing.
Following the incident, Ojinaga Noticias published a statement via their website confirming the tragedy, and added that at the time of the incident, Domínguez was accompanied by a woman who remained unharmed during the act. Univisión reports that Eastern Ojinaga is an area disputed by drug trafficking organizations seeking to control the drug trade to the North.
This was not the first journalist to be killed in Chihuahua, and in particular in Ojinaga. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), José Luis Ortega Mata, editor of the weekly Semanario de Ojinaga, was also assassinated in Ojinaga back on February 19, 2001, by an armed group believed to have ties to a drug trafficking organization. Five years later, journalist Enrique Perea Quintanilla was also killed in Chihuahua, Chihuahua–the state capital–on August 9, 2006. In April 2012, journalists Héctor Javier Aguirre Salinas García and Francisco Javier Moya Muñoz were then killed in a bar shooting in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, that left 15 dead, two of them being the journalists. Authorities reported that their deaths were “circumstantial,” and not a result of their being targeted for their profession. However, various journalist organizations seemed to think otherwise as they immediately called on the government to thoroughly investigate Salinas García’s and Moya Muñoz’s deaths.
According to the Trans-Border Institute’s recent report, “Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2012,” Chihuahua was one of the two states in Mexico, along with Tamaulipas, found to have the highest number of cases in which journalists and media-support workers were killed during 2000 and 2012, each with 11 such homicides. Given its close geographic proximity to the United States, Chihuahua, which is located in northern Mexico and is bordered by four Mexican states (Coahuila, Durango, Sinaloa, and Sonora) and two U.S. states (New Mexico and Texas), makes it an attractive target for drug trafficking organizations and operations, and thus a dangerous region for journalists and media workers.
Looking at the country as a whole, the “Drug Violence in Mexico” report argues that Mexico has become one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists to work. The report identified 74 cases of journalists and media-support workers who were killed between 2006 and 2012 in Mexico, with 2006, 2009, and 2011 having the highest number of killings. This tally of organized-crime-style homicide victims included journalists and media-support workers employed with a recognized news organization at the time of their deaths, as well as independent, free-lance, and former journalists and media-support workers.
(The two images above are pulled from the Trans-Border Institute’s “Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2012” report.)