Tuesday 25 July 2017

Murdered Mexican journalist remembered, one month after he was gunned down outside his workplace

This file photo taken on November 27, 2016 shows Mexican journalist Javier Valdez speaking during the presentation of his book
This file photo taken on November 27, 2016 shows Mexican journalist Javier Valdez speaking during the presentation of his book "Huerfanos del Narco" in the framework of the International Book Fair in Guadalajara, Mexico. (Photo: HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
Journalists hold signs condemning violence against journalists while protesting the recent murder of the of Mexican journalist Javier Valdez on May 16, 2017 in Guadalajara. (Photo: HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
Media, rights groups and people in general protest to demand the Mexican government catch the killers of Javier Valdez, the fifth and most high-profile journalist murdered this year in the country's drug-trafficking ganglands, in front of the Interior Ministry in Mexico City on May 16, 2017. (Photo: ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

Sasha Brady

Award-winning Mexican journalist Javier Valdez has been fondly remembered by his peers, one month after he was assassinated outside his workplace.

One of the most respected journalists in Mexico, Mr Valdez (50) was known for his work on drug trafficking and organised crime.

He was a correspondent for national newspaper, La Jornada and the Agence France-Presse news wire. He also founded the respected Riodoce publication and authored several books on the drug trade, including Narcoperiodismo and Los Morros del Narco.

On Monday, May 15, at midday, Mr Valdez was pulled from his car and shot multiple times by a lone gunman, not too far from the Riodoce office in the Sinaloa state capital of Culiacan.

Media, rights groups and people in general protest to demand the Mexican government catch the killers of Javier Valdez, the fifth and most high-profile journalist murdered this year in the country's drug-trafficking ganglands, in front of the Interior Ministry in Mexico City on May 16, 2017. (Photo: ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)
Media, rights groups and people in general protest to demand the Mexican government catch the killers of Javier Valdez, the fifth and most high-profile journalist murdered this year in the country's drug-trafficking ganglands, in front of the Interior Ministry in Mexico City on May 16, 2017. (Photo: ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

His death was widely mourned in Mexico.

Mr Valdez's murder was the sixth one of a Mexican journalist this year. It came a day after a group of around 100 gunmen attacked seven journalists travelling through Mexico City.

Sinaloa, his home state, is infamous in Mexico's drug world. It's home to the Sinaloa cartel - the world's most powerful drug trafficking organisation - which until recently, was headed by Jaoquin 'El Chapo' Guzman.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist, the Committee to Protect Journalists says. It ranks third in the world for the number of journalists killed, after Syria and Afghanistan, according to the media rights group Reporters Without Borders.

Most murders of reporters go unsolved and unpunished.

Mr Valdez defied the dangers of his job by doggedly going after the cartels and traffickers.

In 2011, after being honored with one of the 2011 International Press Freedom Awards, he spoke of the risks and challenges of reporting in Mexico: “In Culiacán… to do journalism is to tread an invisible line drawn by the bad guys, who are in both drug trafficking and the government.

"Living in Sinaloa is a threat, and being a journalist is an additional threat. We learned how to live in times when bullets are flying around us."

Journalists hold signs condemning violence against journalists while protesting the recent murder of the of Mexican journalist Javier Valdez on May 16, 2017 in Guadalajara. (Photo: HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
Journalists hold signs condemning violence against journalists while protesting the recent murder of the of Mexican journalist Javier Valdez on May 16, 2017 in Guadalajara. (Photo: HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)

A month after his murder, his peers around the globe have paid tribute to him, as campaigns condemning violence against journalists have beeb launched in Mexico.

Christopher Sherman, Mexico Correspondent for the Associated Press said Mr Valdez "occupied a different stratum than most journalists in Mexico".

"I never met Javier, but I knew his reputation," he said. "Independent voices in Mexican journalism stand out and his was unmistakably one of them. For Mexican journalists, it takes more than fluid prose, good sources and a platform. It requires a daily, even minute-by-minute, word-by-word calculation of the risks and the public’s need to know."

Some groups and publications have launched a campaign that encourages journalists in Mexico and around the world to write and share articles, editorials, videos, cartoons and other works that discuss Mr Valdez's murder, the dangers of reporting in Mexico, or journalist protection overall.

The groups are asking that people tag their contributions with the hashtags #ourvoiceisourstrength or #nuestravozesnuestrafuerza.

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