Antonio de la Cruz became the 12th journalist killed this year in Mexico after he was shot dead near his home in Ciudad Victoria in northeastern Mexico on June 29. IPI is alarmed about the rate of attacks towards the press in the country and calls for the authorities to thoroughly investigate the killings of journalists in order to hold those responsible for crimes against the press to account and end the bloodshed against the media in the country.

A journalist for the local newspaper Expreso, de la Cruz was shot dead near his home in Ciudad Victoria, the capital of the northeastern state of Tamaulipas. According to a report by the newspaper, de la Cruz was shot multiple times by a person on a motorcycle as he was driving in his car in the morning of Wednesday, June 29. De la Cruz died at the scene whilst his daughter, who was also in the car and was shot in the head, died two days later.

The Mexican Federal Special Prosecutor’s Office for Attention to Crimes Committed Against Freedom of Expression has opened an investigation into the killing.

De la Cruz worked for Expreso newspaper for over two decades covering topics related to environment, food, and agriculture among others. His colleague Carlos Manuel Juárez told CBS News that de la Cruz was also active and outspoken about politics on Twitter to the point that officials had asked him to take down some critical tweets.

Expreso has been targeted previously as well. Most notably, in December 2018, a severed human head was left in a cooler outside the newspaper’s office alongside a message threatening local journalists. Furthermore, in 2012, a car bomb exploded close to the newspaper’s office.

The horrendous attack on de la Cruz and his daughter is the latest in an unprecedented series of journalist killings in the country this year.

“IPI vehemently condemns the brutal killings of Antonio de la Cruz and his daughter. Twelve journalists have now been murdered in Mexico this year alone – a reflection of Mexico’s utter failure to bring violence against the press under control and stop impunity”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said.

2022 has so far been one of the bloodiest years for the media in Mexico. The country tops the war zone of Ukraine when it comes to the most killings of journalists this year. Last year, Mexico had the highest number of murdered journalists worldwide with seven killed journalists, according to IPI’s data. 

Griffen added: “We cannot become numb to this deadly cycle of violence. The Mexican federal and state authorities must finally act to end violence against the press and provide the country’s journalists with effective protection from further attacks.”

Vast majority of crimes against press go unpunished

Mexico is the world’s deadliest country for the media, according to IPI’s Death Watch with the state of Tamaulipas seeing a peak in violence due to criminal gangs and drug trafficking. 

Journalists in Mexico are targeted at an alarming rate and the vast majority of these crimes go unpunished. Current president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has been in power since 2018, is yet to take the necessary steps to stop the deadly violence against the press. Instead, the president often unleashes verbal attacks against the media

Since President Obrador took office, attacks on the press have skyrocketed. In February the president promised “zero impunity” over the killings of journalists in Mexico. However, a month later, in March, Obrador angrily rejected a resolution passed by the European Parliament condemning the recent spate of violence against the press in Mexico and criticising Obrador’s use of rhetoric “to denigrate and intimidate independent journalists, media owners and activists”.