Journalist killed in Mexico, 12th case in 2009

AP News
Posted: Dec 25, 2009 5:32 PM

A journalist was gunned down this week as he left a holiday party in the Mexican Caribbean resort town of Tulum, human rights officials and an international media group said Friday, bringing to 12 the number of reporters killed this year in the country.

Alberto Velazquez of the newspaper Expresiones de Tulum was killed on Tuesday.

Velazquez had written articles critical of local officials, and his paper had received threats, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. In a statement, the group quoted colleagues as saying Velazquez was shot by a gunman on a motorcycle, and they believed it was related to his reporting.

Velazquez founded the paper in June and worked as a lawyer, according to the Civic Association of Journalists of the Riviera Maya, a local press group. It said that Velazquez, as he was dying, reportedly accused allies of the mayor of Tulum of being responsible for his death.

No one answered phone numbers listed for the mayor or his top officials on Friday.

But the association quoted Mayor Marciano Dzul as condemning the killing and saying his government would not tolerate such acts.

Tulum, a beach town about 80 miles (129 kilometers) south of Cancun, draws many tourists from the popular resort city because of its coastal Mayan ruins.

The CPJ said at least 17 reporters have been murdered in Mexico since 1992 in direct reprisal for their work.

It did not specifically include Velazquez in that group, but urged a thorough investigation.

"Mexico has become a high-risk country for journalistic work," the country's National Human Rights Commission wrote, noting that in all, 57 reporters have been killed since 2000 and another eight are missing.

Attacks on journalists _ including killings, explosives tossed at newspaper offices, beatings and other forms of harassment _ have risen over the course of the decade, according to the commission, from 13 in 2000 to 78 this year.

The rights commission, which can only issue nonbinding recommendations, demanded that authorities in the Caribbean state of Quintana Roo investigate Velazquez's killing. .