The tragic news of the brutal murder of Javier Valdez Cárdenas, a Mexican journalist renowned for his fearless reporting of the drug war wreaking havoc across Mexico, has sent shockwaves through the country.
His journalism was particularly well-known in his home town of Culiacán, in Sinaloa. There, thousands of people are virtual hostages of a war between ruthless drug cartels and a government that is at best, unable to protect its people and, at worse, in collusion with those it claims to be fighting against.
Javier was gunned down by unidentified men near the office of Riodoce, the weekly newspaper he founded and one of the few in the state still reporting on the wave of deaths sweeping through the area.
As news broke of the shooting that ended his life, messages poured in from all corners of Mexico — and the rest of the world. Javier was one of those journalists who was a source of reliable information and was respected by all.
But one of the messages sent in the aftermath stood out; perhaps because of its irony.
Soon after the news of the crime went public, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said his government was “committed to press freedom” and that he had instructed federal prosecutors to help with the investigation initiated by state authorities.
President Peña Nieto should not be shocked about Javier’s killing. In fact, if he had been watching the news at all since January, he should not even be surprised.
Javier was the sixth journalist murdered in Mexico since the beginning of 2017, as punishment for their work. According to the organization Article 19, 106 journalists have been murdered in Mexico since 2000, 33 of them since Peña Nieto took office nearly five years ago.
That is one journalist killed every month.
In Mexico, journalism is a deadly business. Maximino Rodríguez, Cecilio Pineda, Ricardo Monlui, Miroslava Breach, Jonathan Rodríguez and Javier all died doing a profession that should not just…