HAVANA TIMES – Mexican authorities must immediately and transparently investigate the killing of journalist Jacinto Romero Flores, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
At about 10:45 a.m. on August 19, unidentified attackers in a vehicle shot and killed Romero, a reporter for radio broadcaster Ori Stereo FM, while he was driving his car on Reforma Boulevard in Potrerillo, a town in the Ixtaczoquitlán municipality of Veracruz state, according to news reports.
The attackers shot him multiple times and he died at the scene, according to those reports, citing police sources.
Romero had previously reported receiving threats, and had been granted protection from Veracruz state authorities, according to those reports.
“Mexico’s ongoing wave of brutal slayings of journalists has claimed another victim in Jacinto Romero Flores,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ’s Mexico representative. “Unless Mexican authorities commit to finding justice in this case and other journalist deaths, and to protecting reporters under threat, such media killings are all but guaranteed to continue.”
Romero, 60, anchored “Dígalo Sin Miedo” (“Say It Without Fear”), a radio show on Ori Stereo FM, a broadcaster based in the Veracruz city of Orizaba, in which people called in to discuss crime, corruption, and alleged abuses and negligence by local authorities, according to reports. He previously worked as a reporter for El Sol de Orizaba, a newspaper in Orizaba, according to those reports.
Romero also hosted “El Enano del Tapanco” (“The Dwarf of Tapanco”), a weekly Facebook-based talk show in which he and guests discussed Veracruz state and national politics. In addition, he wrote regular articles and columns on a personal blog, where he most recently published stories about the environment, cultural events, and education.
CPJ was unable to review Romero’s recent work for Ori Stereo FM, which does not have an online archive. The station condemned the killing in a statement on Facebook; CPJ repeatedly called the station for comment, but no one answered.
Israel Hernández, the executive secretary of the Veracruz State Commission for Attention to and Protection of Journalists, an autonomous state government agency, told CPJ in a phone interview that Romero covered a wide range of topics, including crime and security in the area.
According to multiple news reports, Romero had reported having received threats via WhatsApp from a local police officer in Ixtaczoquitlán in February. Those reports did not specify the substance of those threats.
Hernández told CPJ that Romero had reported receiving threats in February and that he had been enrolled in a protection program coordinated by his commission, but said the measures were “moderate to light.”
“We only monitored him, because he didn’t want any additional security like bodyguards,” Hernández said.
Romero had also been a candidate for mayor in Ixtaczoquitlán in 2017 for the New Alliance Party, according to news reports, and was a member of the National Regeneration Party (Morena) of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Veracruz Governor Cuitláhuac García.
CPJ repeatedly called the Veracruz state prosecutor’s office and the Ixtaczoquitlán municipal police for comment, but no one answered.
Mexico is the deadliest country in the Western Hemisphere for journalists, according to CPJ research. At least two reporters were killed in direct relation to their work this year, and CPJ is investigating two other killings, as well as a disappearance, to determine the motive.