Mexican activist and former journalist Sergio Martinez Gonzalez was murdered Wednesday morning by unknown assailants. It’s the second journalist killed in the southern state of Chiapas in just two weeks.
Martinez founded the weekly Enfoque and was a well-known activist in the region. He was forced to shut down his publication in 2010 due to problems with the transnational criminal organization ‘Mara Salvatrucha’ (MS13), but he continued his reporting activities on social media.
He was having breakfast with his wife at a restaurant in Tuxtla Chico, near the border with Guatemala when two people in a motorcycle approached and shot at them. By the time this article was published, his wife was at the hospital being treated for injuries.
In a recent social media post, Martinz denounced authorities negligence, as he knew his life was in danger.
“I have cried for help… I have complained with every authority in charge of prevention and protection of justice,” he wrote, “but everything fell on deaf ears.”
A journalist and freedom of speech organization Article 19 condemned the murder and demanded an investigation.
“We’re aware of the murder of Sergio Martinez in Chiapas. Article 19 documents the events and demands the State’s Prosecuting Office to investigate it taking into account his work as a journalist and provide protection for his family.”
But the prosecuting office denied that Martinez was a journalist and declared they won’t follow this line of inquiry. People who knew him said that he was a critical writer, but that didn’t work as a journalist anymore.
“In a strict sense he wasn’t a journalist,” wrote Isain Mandujano, a local correspondent for the weekly Proceso, “he was an informed person and fellow journalists in the region used him as an informant, but didn’t acknowledge him as a journalist.”
The prosecuting office has stated that Martinez was carrying a gun at the time of the attack and that he was being investigated for the murder of Angel Cifuentes Aguilar, a Honduran national allegedly member of the MS13, according to the district’s prosecutor Ignacio Vila.
His former work led many media outlets in Mexico to condemn the aggression, as journalist Mario Gomez had just been murdered in Yajalon, Chiapas, on September 21, as he was leaving his home. Three suspects have been arrested for Gomez's murder.
If counting Martinez, at least eight journalists have been killed in Mexico so far in 2018, and 45 during the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Correction: An earlier version of this article said seven journalists were murdered in Mexico in 2018. The number has been disputed but at least eight have been confirmed, which is now reflected in the piece.