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Senior UN official alarmed at recent murders of journalists in Mexico

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.
UNESCO/Francis Barrier
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

Senior UN official alarmed at recent murders of journalists in Mexico

The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom today voiced alarm and anger over the murders of three Mexican journalists in the state of Veracruz in less than a week.

“I condemn these three murders in the strongest possible terms and urge the Mexican authorities to act quickly and decisively to find those responsible. Impunity is not an option,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The bodies of Gabriel Huge, a photographer formerly from the daily Notiver, and Guillermo Luna Varela, formerly of Veracruznews, were found on 3 May – which is observed annually as World Press Freedom Day – in plastic bags near the banks of a canal in Boca del Rio.

According to two non-governmental groups – the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters without Borders – they had been reported missing the day before, after being called out to cover a road accident.

The bodies of two other people, retired photographer Esteban Rodriguez and Irasema Becerra, companion of Mr. Luna, were found nearby.

These latest killings follow the murder on 28 April of Regina Martinez, a correspondent for the weekly magazine Proceso, who was found dead in her home in Xalapa, also in the state of Veracruz. She was known particularly for her in-depth reporting on drug cartels.

The news of the latest murders – less than one week after the assassination of Ms. Martínez – is “deeply disturbing and reflects an alarming state of affairs in the state of Veracruz,” said Ms. Bokova.

These three new deaths bring to nine the total number of journalists murdered in the region over the past 18 months, UNESCO said in a news release.