On July 31, Rubén Espinosa, a prominent Mexican photojournalist who covered social movements, and Nadia Vera Pérez, a 32-year-old activist, along with three other people—Yesenia Quiroz, an 18-year-old student from Mexicali, and two other unnamed women, one from Colombia—were murdered in a Mexico City apartment earlier this week. All were tortured. The women were raped.
Espinosa, who worked for the magazines Proceso and Cuartoscuro, is the latest of (at least) eighty-six “journalists and media workers” murdered “in definite or probable connection with their work” since 2000—the forty-second since 2010. Fourteen of those journalists killed were from the state of Veracruz, where Espinosa had worked until he left for Mexico City, fearing for his life. Nadia Vera Pérez was a social anthropologist and active in the student movement #YoSoy132 in Veracruz. Both had had run-ins with the state’s corrupt governor, Javier Duarte, of the ruling PRI party. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Duarte’s administration has been the deadliest for journalists in the history of the state.”
In Espinosa’s last interview before his murder, he explained why he had to leave Veracruz: “I had to leave because it was not a direct threat, but I got the message. It was just recently when students were attacked and brutally beaten with machetes. In these situations, we can’t do less with any type of aggression or intimidation because we don’t know what might happen. Veracruz is a lawless state.” Espinosa had taken the cover photograph of Duarte for an issue of the magazine Proceso, with the headline, “Veracruz: A State without Law.”
Nadia Vera Pérez said, in an interview just weeks before her murder, of Veracruz’s governor: “Give an ignorant man a little bit of power and see what happens…. How many journalists have been murdered, and what has come of it? How many students, activists, and human rights defenders have been killed, picked up, or disappeared? We have an unbelievable number of missing persons in Mexico, and it has everything to do with the person who is governing the state.” She indicated in that interview that, were something to happen to her, Governor Duarte would be to blame. Seven journalists have been killed this year alone. Four of them worked in Veracruz.