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Mexico: Journalist shot dead in resort town

May 17, 2019

A crime reporter has been killed in the Mexican resort town of Playa del Carmen, the fifth journalist slain in the country so far this year. He had been under official government protection.

Mexican police officer
Image: Getty Images/D. Grombkowski

A police reporter who had received several death threats and was under government protection has been shot to death in the Mexican beach resort town of Playa del Carmen.

The body of Francisco Romero was found early Thursday morning in the parking lot of a nightclub; he had been called to the area after a news tip. Although Romero had four bodyguards, provided by the government to protect him following the recent death threats, he had sent them home just hours before his death.

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The state prosecutor's office has opened a homicide investigation, saying Romero had filed a complaint on April 12 over threats he had received. Romero's wife, Veronica Rodriguez, confirmed her husband had received numerous death threats and said she still feared for her life.

"The last time wasn't even two weeks ago. They threatened him saying that if he didn't do what they wanted, they were going to kill me," she told the Agence France-Presse. "They said they knew where our son studied, that they were going to throw him off a bridge."

Deadliest country for journalists

Reporters Without Borders said the killing, the fifth reporter slain in Mexico since January, officially made it deadliest country in the world for journalists so far this year. Last year, the group ranked Mexico the third most dangerous in the world for the press after war-torn Afghanistan and Syria.

Romero worked for Quintana Roo Hoy, a regional newspaper, and ran a Facebook-based news site called Ocurrio Aqui (It Happened Here) that covers political issues and crime.

He had been under the official protection program for journalists since 2018, according to Reporters Without Borders, following the murder of two Playa del Carmen journalists in June and July 2018.

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"The government must take bold decisions and deeply reform the national protection mechanism, whose efficiency has been constantly questioned," said Emmanuel Colombie, Latin America director for Reporters Without Borders.

Drug trafficking and political corruption has led to increased violence in Mexico in recent years, and journalists reporting on these issues have often been targeted.

jsi/cmk (dpa, AFP, AP)

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