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Border journalists shaken after second reporter is gunned down in Tijuana in less than a week

A Mexican journalist was gunned down in front of her home in Tijuana on Sunday. This is the second reporter murdered there in less than a week and the third this month in Mexico. KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado spoke with a journalist and friend of two of the reporters killed.

In 2019, Mexican journalist Lourdes Maldonado stood up during a news conference and pleaded with Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for help because she feared for her life.

On Sunday, she was gunned down outside her home in Tijuana. She is the second well-known reporter murdered in the border city in less than a week. Margarito Martinez was shot and killed outside of his Tijuana home on Jan. 17.

"I really want to say to you that my country, my city is safe for everyone, but it isn’t true, no more," said Aline Corpus, in tears as she shared what she sees as the hard truth about the place where she lives and works as a journalist.

Reporter protesting journalists murdered in Tijuana.jpg
Courtesy of Alejandro Ortiz
Reporter in Guerrero, Mexico protesting the murders of three journalists in a month, two of them in less than a week in Tijuana, Jan. 24, 2022.

She's been a reporter for more than 20 years and said reporters in the border region are feeling very vulnerable.

"I feel hopeless because we thought that with the murder of Margarito we have all the attention on Tijuana and we were, I don’t know, safe," she said. "And look what happened Lourdes was shot, so no, no we don’t feel safe in Tijuana."

She said Maldonado had just attended Martinez’s vigil and funeral, and that his death hit too close to home for her.

"She was very sad and I think she wasn’t okay," Corpus said.

She said Maldonado was a political reporter with over 40 years of experience and was passionate about covering corruption.

Martinez worked for over seven publications and covered crime. Corpus said he also helped reporters on this side of the border cover stories there. She said he was beloved by the journalism community because he took time to help new reporters, always had kind words and was just fun to be around.

"When we all knew about his murder it was a very personal thing for all the reporters in Tijuana," said Corpus, adding that reporters now have to navigate something no reporter should: covering the death of a colleague while trying to mourn their loss. "This time is very difficult for us, we have to cover and feel at the same time. So it’s not easy."

Natalie Southwick, the program director in Latin America and the Caribbean with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a nonprofit advocacy organization for reporters, said Maldonado is the third journalist to be murdered this month.

"One of the things that’s really striking about the three cases that we’ve seen in the last two weeks in Mexico is almost this sense of both frustration but exhaustion," she said. "You know Mexico is and continues to be the deadliest country in the hemisphere for journalists."

There is no political will to protect reporters and hold people accountable when they are threatened or killed, even when reporters ask for help, like Maldonado, Southwick said.

"There’s not always a desire to listen to them or to act on what they’re saying," she said. "And so that really emphasizes the failure by Mexican authorities to take these threats seriously, even when they’re right in front of their faces."

Border journalists shaken after second reporter is gunned down in Tijuana in less than a week

Speaker 1: (00:00)

A Mexican journalist was gunned down in front of her home in Tijuana on Sunday. This is the second reporter murdered there in a week. And the third, this month in Mexico, KPBS reporter kitty Verado spoke with a journalist and a friend of the two reporters killed, left in shock. After the shootings bang.

Speaker 2: (00:25)

This is journalist Lu mal in 2019 pleading with Mexican president Andre Lopez for help because she feared for her life. On Sunday. She was gunned down, outside her home in Tijuana. She's the second well known re Porter murdered in the border city in less than a week, Marto Martinez was shot and killed outside of his Tijuana home on January 17th.

Speaker 3: (00:50)

I really want to say to you that my, my country, my city is safe for everyone, but it isn't true.

Speaker 2: (01:04)

No more. Alina CorpU has been a border region journalist for over 20 years. Mal, Nado and Martinez were her friends she's devastated over their deaths. She says, reporters in the region are feeling very vulnerable. I

Speaker 3: (01:18)

Feel ly hopeless and later what happened was shot. So no, no, we don't feel safe in Tijuana.

Speaker 2: (01:31)

She says ma Nado had just attended Martinez's vigil and funeral and his death hit too close to home.

Speaker 3: (01:38)

She was very, she was very sad. I think she was she wasn't okay.

Speaker 2: (01:43)

Reporters there have to navigate what no reporter should.

Speaker 3: (01:47)

This time. It's very difficult to us. We have to cover and feel at the same time at the, at the same time. So, um, it's not easy.

Speaker 2: (01:57)

Natalie Southwick is with the committee to protect journalists, a nonprofit advocacy organiz for reporters. She says, man, Nado is the third journalist to be murdered in Mexico this month.

Speaker 4: (02:09)

Almost this sense of both frustration, but exhaustion, you know, Mexico is and continues to be the deadliest country in the hemisphere of her

Speaker 2: (02:18)

Journalists. She says the problem there's no political will to protect reporters and hold people accountable. Even when reporters ask for help, like my C PJ has documented and is investigating 18 in the last two years,

Speaker 4: (02:34)

That's an average of one every six weeks. That's a horrifying statistic and that's not something that can continue. We're going to lose access to information. There's all of the country that are effectively

Speaker 2: (02:46)

News deserts. Alina says while she and her colleagues will carry on their work, they can't help. But wonder the obvious.

Speaker 3: (02:54)

We have a question in our minds who could be the next one?

Speaker 2: (02:59)

Katie Verado K PBS news.

Southwick said everyone should care about the staggering numbers of journalists being killed in Mexico, especially because of its proximity to the U.S. CPJ has documented and is investigating 18 reporter murders in the last two years.

"That’s an average of one every six weeks," she said. "That’s a horrifying statistic and that’s not something that can continue, we’re going to lose access to information there’s already parts of the country that are effectively news deserts."

Everyone can do something to support journalists, and in particular, politicians, who often lash out at journalists for doing their jobs, adding their words have an effect, Southwick said.

Corpus said while she and her colleagues will carry on with their work they can’t help but wonder the obvious.

"We have a question on our minds, who could be the next one?" she said.

Reporters in Mexico have planned demonstrations in Mexico, including in Tijuana, on Tuesday.