Mexico City, the nation’s capital, was long considered a safe haven for journalists compared with the rest of Mexico. However, it is no longer safe. This became clear after Mexican photojournalist Rubén Espinosa, who fled the coastal state of Veracruz after receiving threats, was murdered in Mexico City  on July 31.
Veracruz is a particularly dangerous state. At least 11 journalists have been killed and three have disappeared there in the past four years since ruling PRI party’s Javier Duarte became the governor of Veracruz, which tops the list of Mexican states with most reporters murdered.
Four women, among them human rights activist Nadia Vera, were also murdered along with the 31-year-old photojournalist Espinosa in what Francisco Goldman in The New Yorker called “The Colonia Narvarte massacre” after the name of the middle-class neighborhood were they were killed, execution-style.
Photojournalists wearing t-shirts with characters that form the words ‘Justice For Ruben’,  who was killed along with four women in Mexico City.  (Photo credit: Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images)
“Rubén Espinosa fled after being threatened in one of the region’s deadliest states for journalists and was murdered after six weeks in a place once seen as a safe haven in the country,” Carlos Lauría, senior program coordinator for the Americas at the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a statement.
The last time a reporter was killed in Mexico City was in 2006. The victim was José Manuel Nava, the former Washington correspondent for Mexican newspaper Excelsior.
Espinosa told the CPJ in June that he had been threatened repeatedly in the past few years and that he ran away from Veracruz after he noticed people outside his home in Xalapa, the state capital, three separate times who made intimidating glances and gestures. 
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Espinosa also told the CPJ that in 2012 an unidentified man “grabbed me by the shirt, threw me up against a metal curtain and told me, ‘Stop taking photos…if you don’t want to end up like Regina Martínez.’” Regina Martínez Pérez, the Veracruz correspondent for the national magazine Proceso, was killed in April 2012 after she wrote articles that were critical of state officials.
The Colonia Narvarte killings triggered a wave of condemnations in Mexico and abroad. Several thousand people took to the streets in Mexico City soon after the murders, carrying banners reading “Killing journalists won’t kill the truth.”
Protest for the murder of Ruben Espioosa and four women in Mexico City (Photo credit: Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images)
For the demonstrators the murder of Espinosa shattered the idea that Mexico City could be a haven for journalists fleeing violence in other Mexican states. There is also the sense that impunity will continue unabated and that Espinosa’s murder, like the vast majority that have preceded it, will remain unsolved. According to the CPJ, 90% of all murder cases of journalists in the past 10 years in Mexico have not been resolved.
Lauría, the CPJ coordinator for the Americas, said that it is time for Mexican federal and local authorities to take action to combat the “serious press freedom crisis facing Mexico.”
The assassinations put the international spotlight back on the plight of reporters in Mexico. In an open letter to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on August 15, 500 renowned journalists, writers, creative artists, and free expression advocates from around the world, expressed their “indignation” over the deadly attacks against reporters in Mexico.
With the support of PEN and the CPJ, the group reminded Peña Nieto that an “attempt on the life of a journalist is an attack on society’s very right to be informed” and urged him to guarantee a credible investigation of the assassination of Espinosa and all other assassinations of reporters, and to protect freedom of expression in Mexico.
Their concern was echoed by The New York Times. In an August 15 editorial titled “The Murder of Mexico’s Free Press,” the paper called on Peña Nieto to take “forceful action” to end attacks on the press.
Peña Nieto did not respond to the letter, but asked the Ministry of Government to answer on his behalf. Assistant Secretary for Human Rights Roberto Campa said on Tuesday August 18 that the government condemns attacks against the press and human rights advocates and is collaborating in the investigations of the recent killings which are being conducted by Mexico City’s authorities.
Twitter: @DoliaEstevez