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Mexican crime journalist shot dead in Acapulo

July 16, 2023

Data from Reporters Without Borders shows that 150 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000. In 2022 alone, 13 members of the press were killed there.

Members of the tactical intervention team check the area where Mexican journalist Nelson Mateus was murdered in the resort town of Acapulco, Guerrero state
Mexico is considered to be the most deadly country in the world for members of the pressImage: Franciso Robles/AFP via Getty Images

Nelson Matus, a Mexican crime journalist, was shot dead in the parking lot of a store on Saturday in the tourist town of Acapulco, regional officials said.

The killing marks the second death of a working journalist within a week in what is known to be the most deadly country for members of the press. Luis Martin Sanchez, a journalist for the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, was found dead on July 8 "with signs of violence" after going missing in the state of Nayarit.

About the incident

Matus, who was the director of a local news outlet called Lo Real de Guerrero, was shot as he was getting into his car in a thrift store parking lot. According to police reports, officers received a call shortly after 3 p.m., informing them of the incident. Paramedics arrived at the scene to find Matus' lifeless body, which was identified with his belongings. The area was then cordoned off.

The Attorney General's Office of the coastal state of Guerrero initiated an investigation for aggravated homicide. In a statement, it said that it "reiterates its commitment to exhaust every line of investigation" into Matus' death.

In a 15-year-long career, Matus largely covered "red news" — a genre of journalism in Mexico that focuses on crime, violence and disasters, according to Balbina Flores, the Mexico delegate for Reporters Without Borders (RSF). His most recent report, published on Saturday, was about the discovery of "human remains in black bags (...) next to the La Palapa hotel" in the city.  

A member of the local justice system checks the area where Mexican journalist Nelson Mateus was murdered in the resort town of Acapulco, Guerrero state, Mexico
Matus' latest story dealt with human remains found in black bags in AcapulcoImage: Franciso Robles/AFP via Getty Images

No safe place for journalists

The killings of Lo Real de Guerrero's Matus and La Jornada's Sanchez are only the most recent in a long string of violence, kidnappings and threats against members of the press.

Data from RSF shows that 150 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000. Just in 2022, 13 journalists were killed in country, according to government data.

Sanchez was one of three journalists who had been abducted in the western state of Nayarit, according to the prosecutor's office. While he was found dead with messages pinned to his chest, another former journalist was abducted from his home in the town of Xalisco earlier this month. The third journalist was found alive.

Leftist newspaper La Jornada lost two of its most widely known reporters — Miroslava Breach and Javier Valdez — in a matter of months in 2017.

The Federation of Journalists of Acapulco and the Association of Police Information Reporters in Guerrero condemned the murder and demanded a thorough investigation which culminates in punishment. 

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mk/sms (AFP, Reuters, EFE)