Newspaper founder and author Valdez. Newspaper founder and author Valdez.

Assassins gun down Sinaloa journalist

Javier Valdez founded a newspaper that focused on organized crime and the drug war

The founder of a weekly newspaper whose coverage has focused extensively on organized crime and the drug war in Sinaloa was assassinated today near his office in Culiacán.

Javier Valdez Cárdenas, 50, reporter, author of several books on drug trafficking and the winner of international awards for his writing, was intercepted by gunmen a few blocks from the offices of Ríodoce at about noon and shot dead.

Valdez and other reporters founded the newspaper in 2003, dedicating their coverage to crime and corruption. Six years later, after Ríodoce published a series entitled “Hitman: Confessions of an Assassin in Ciudad Juárez,” a grenade was thrown into the newspaper’s office, damaging the building but causing no injuries.

The attackers, according to a report on Wikipedia, were never identified.

In 2011, Valdez was awarded the International Press Freedom Award by the Committee to Protect Journalists. In his acceptance speech at the ceremony in New York City, he said that where he worked it was “dangerous to be alive, and to do journalism is to walk on an invisible line drawn by the bad guys — who are in drug trafficking and in the government — in a field strewn with explosives.”

Valdez wrote as well for the national daily newspaper La Jornada and for the news agency, Agence France-Presse, but he was also the author several books about narco-trafficking.

One was about the “kids of the drug trade,” the children and teenagers involved in drug trafficking in Mexico. During his speech in New York, Valdez said the book told of “the tragedy Mexico is living, a tragedy that should shame us.

“The youth will remember this as a time of war. Their DNA is tattooed with bullets and guns and blood, and this is a form of killing tomorrow. We are murderers of our own future.”

His most recent book, published last year, tells the story of Mexican reporters who ply their trade in spite of the risks it represents.

In January, his book about missing persons and the victims of the narcos was published in English. Entitled “The Taken,” it is a collection of first-hand accounts that provide a human perspective on life in Sinaloa during the drug war. It is the first of the author’s books to be translated into English.

Valdez is the fifth journalist to be assassinated in Mexico this year, a number that is creeping up on last year’s 11, a record.

A report published last month by the Committee to Protect Journalists described Mexico as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists due to “endemic impunity” that allows criminal gangs, corrupt officials and cartels to silence their critics.

Today in Sinaloa they silenced another.

Source: Animal Político (sp)

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