08/09/14 (written by aalvarez) — Mexican local news reporter Nolberto Herrera Rodríguez (38) was found dead in his home in Guadalupe, Zacatecas on July 29. The body, which had more than 20 stab wounds, was discovered when Herrera’s coworkers went to his house after he missed work and was unresponsive to their calls. A pair of bloody jeans was also found in the bathroom, which authorities suggest may indicate that the suspect bathed before fleeing. The federal Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) is investigating the case, and has not yet identified any suspects. Reports indicate, however, that they believe the killer may have been a guest of Herrera’s, who had been invited over for several drinks.
Not only has a suspect yet to be identified, investigators are also working to find the motive for the killing. Despite Herrera’s work as a cameraman, reporter, and news editor for Channel 9 local news and TV Azteca, current evidence does not necessarily suggest that his murder was motivated by his profession. Rather, Proceso reports that some authorities think it may have been a hate crime, as Herrera self-identified as homosexual. According to Zacatecas Attorney General Arturo Nahle García, “In reports to the press, [Nahle García] said that Herrera Rodríguez had opened the door to his murderer, and they that they consumed several beverages together, which ended in an ‘act of brutal aggression,’ that could have homophobic ties.” Investigations are still underway to identify both the suspect and motive.
Herrera’s murder evoked responses from several national and international organizations, calling for authorities to immediately investigate the case and hold those responsible accountable. Organization Artículo 19, for example, urged officials to “carry out a thorough investigation to sanction those responsible and break the cycle of impunity that intimidates freedom of press.” Meanwhile, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) condemned Herrera’s killing, arguing, “The atrocious crime that took Nolberto Herrera Rodríguez’s life deprives the citizens of Zacatecas of a professional voice whose work was to keep them informed.”
Whether or not Herrera’s murder was related to his profession, it adds to Mexico’s already notorious problems with protecting members of the media. According to El Universal, Mexico’s Special Attorney’s General Office for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (Fiscalía Especializada en Delitos contra la Libertad de Expresión del Gobierno) recently reported that from 2000 to June 2014, 102 journalists have been murdered in Mexico, ten of which have been since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in 2012. Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) ranks Mexico in the bottom seven countries worldwide in its efforts to punish and investigate crimes against journalists. For its part, Reports Without Borders ranks Mexico 152nd out of 180 countries in its 2014 press freedom index.