The murder of opinion columnist Carlos Dominguez, 77, is currently under investigation after he was fatally stabbed while stopped at a traffic light in his vehicle on Saturday, according to Mexican authorities.
Dominguez, who covered politics, organized crime and corruption in his nearly four decade-long career, was slain in front of his son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren. Armed men stormed the stopped car in the Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo and stabbed the journalist 21 times.
Colleagues of the reporter believe the attack was in response to his controversial columns. “For Carlos’ colleagues, there is no doubt that his assassination is linked to his journalistic work,” the organization Reporters Without Borders said in a statement on Jan. 15.
Ahead of Mexico’s presidential election, taking place in July, Dominguez published a commentary critical of the federal government. The day before his murder, he wrote of the government’s “failure on the matter of public security” on Mexican news website Horizonte de Matamoros, In the same column, he also criticized the local mayor for “lashing out against journalists who expose her flagrant faults.”
Journalists in the country are now fearing for their lives as the latest homicide is one among many targeting reporters critical of those in power. According to the Los Angeles Times, eleven reporters were killed in Mexico in 2017 with very few arrests made. The perils surrounding political commentary has prompted journalists to flee Mexico or eschew grappling with investigations that could endanger their lives, which has compelled brave citizens to megaphone malfeasance via social media at their own risk.
“It’s very, very dangerous to be a journalist in Tamaulipas [located in Nuevo Laredo],” Jan-Albert Hootsen, Mexico’s representative for the nonprofit group Committee to Protect Journalists, told the newspaper. “There’s a lot of self-censorship of journalists who are often too afraid to report on what’s really going on for fear of reprisals. Doing serious investigative journalism in that state can cost you your life.”
Jan Jarab, the Mexican representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, added: “The terrible murder of Mr. Dominguez confirms the risk of being a journalist in Mexico and in particular in Tamaulipas.”