In Mexico Journalists demand justice in colleague's murder

Murdered Mexican journalist Javier Valdez's widow, children and colleagues led protests on Thursday to mark one month since he was gunned down in the street, condemning the lack of progress in the investigation.

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Journalists take part in a protest to mark one month since the murder of their colleague Javier Valdez, a noted expert on the country's drug cartels and AFP contributor, in Mexico City, on June 15, 2017 play

Journalists take part in a protest to mark one month since the murder of their colleague Javier Valdez, a noted expert on the country's drug cartels and AFP contributor, in Mexico City, on June 15, 2017

(AFP)
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Murdered Mexican journalist Javier Valdez's widow, children and colleagues led protests on Thursday to mark one month since he was gunned down in the street, condemning the lack of progress in the investigation.

Valdez, 50, was shot a dozen times in broad daylight on May 15 outside the offices of Riodoce, the newspaper he co-founded in the violent western state of Sinaloa.

A veteran crime reporter, award-winning author and longtime AFP contributor, he is the highest-profile journalist yet to be murdered in Mexico, where more than 100 of his colleagues have been killed since 2000.

The crime drew international outcry and forced President Enrique Pena Nieto to publicly address the issue for the first time.

But one month on, Valdez's colleagues are unimpressed by the results of the president's promises to fight impunity, in a country where more than 90 percent of these cases remain unpunished.

Mexican journalists protest Javier Valdez killing play

Mexican journalists protest Javier Valdez killing

(AFP)

One journalist pulled an ambush protest on Pena Nieto as he delivered a speech to media executives on his government's commitment to a free press.

"Enough bloodshed," read a banner held up by journalist Alvaro Delgado of the newsweekly Proceso.

Hundreds of journalists and activists held protest marches in Sinaloa's capital, Culiacan, and Mexico City's historic center. Smaller protests were held in several other cities around the country.

In Mexico City, protesters carried pictures of murdered and missing journalists and read out the long list of their names.

One group unfurled a large Mexican flag with the green and red replaced by black. Its insignia read: "The state is dead."

'There is no government here'

The investigation into Valdez's death shows little progress.

Speaking at the protest in Culiacan, Valdez's widow, Griselda Triana, voiced outrage at the authorities' "incompetence."

A protester holds a picture of Mexican journalist Javier Valdez who was assassinated in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, on May 15, 2017 play

A protester holds a picture of Mexican journalist Javier Valdez who was assassinated in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, on May 15, 2017

(AFP/File)

"The few times they've approached me to tell me about their progress on the case, the truth is that you can tell they're useless," she said.

"I ask myself if I haven't crossed paths with Javier's murderers this month in the street," she told reporters.

"I'm afraid, more for my (three) children than myself, because they're in a very vulnerable situation now and you realize that in reality there is no government, no authority here."

State prosecutors initially said they were investigating the case as an auto robbery, before acknowledging Valdez's journalism was the likely motive.

"There is evidence, there are clues," lead prosecutor Ricardo Sanchez insisted Wednesday in an interview with the radio station Formula, declining to give further details because the investigation remains open.

But the government sowed doubts about the investigation when it offered an $85,000 reward Tuesday for tips on the case.

"It seems to me a pretty poor sign that investigators... have to resort to such archaic methods, as if this were the Wild West," Riodoce's editor in chief, Ismael Bojorquez, told journalists.

Cartel war

Journalists take part in a protest to mark one month since the murder of their colleague Javier Valdez, a noted expert on the country's drug cartels and AFP contributor, in Mexico City, on June 15, 2017 play

Journalists take part in a protest to mark one month since the murder of their colleague Javier Valdez, a noted expert on the country's drug cartels and AFP contributor, in Mexico City, on June 15, 2017

(AFP)

Valdez had recently been reporting on a war between rival factions of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel since its boss, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, was extradited to the United States in January.

Colleagues at Riodoce suspect he may have been killed in retaliation for an interview he published with the head of one faction, Damaso Lopez Nunez, who is battling El Chapo's sons for control of the cartel.

Valdez was at least the fifth reporter killed this year. Another, Salvador Adame, the head of a local TV station in the state of Michoacan, has been missing since gunmen abducted him on May 18.

Mexico is the world's third-deadliest country for journalists, after Syria and Afghanistan, according to the watchdog group Reporters Without Borders.

Many of the victims were reporting on the country's multi-billion-dollar drug cartels, rampant government corruption, or both.

Foreign correspondents have appealed to international media outlets to publish stories about Valdez and spread the word about the case using the social media hashtag #OurVoiceIsOurStrength (#NuestraVozEsNuestraFuerza, in Spanish).

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