Reporter and radio host Jacinto Romero, 61, was killed by a commando Thursday morning in Ixtaczoquitlán, just outside the city of Orizaba, Veracruz.
The attackers shot Romero around 10:45 a.m. as he was driving from his home in the community of Potrerillo on his way to work. The journalist wrote and hosted for the radio station Ori Stereo 99.3 FM.
Romero was described as an affable, old-school reporter who loved animals and spoke out in support of health workers during the pandemic. In his column, called “The Dwarf of Tapanco,” he gave his own wordy take on local politics.
In early March of this year, Romero said he had received threats after covering abuses committed by local police. The case in question involved an officer who shot a horseback rider at a 15th birthday party in Texhuacan. The officer turned out to have political connections: his aunt was the Texhuacan chief administrator.
After his coverage, he received WhatsApp messages tell him to “stop writing bullshit,” and “don’t mess with my people,” threatening to “come for him.”
Veracruz Governor Cuitláhuac García assured the public that the government was on the case.
“Intimidation of the population, and of journalists in particular, will not be permitted. Any attempted crime won’t go unpunished,” he wrote on Facebook.
The region is known for forced disappearances and narco-violence. In Ixtaczoquitlán in 2019, at least 13 people detained by the municipal police were not seen again. At least 30 people have disappeared in the Montañas Altas region, where Ixtaczoquitlán is located, since April of that year.
Just days before Romero’s death, on August 11, armed men blockaded roads in the area after two presumed cartel members were arrested. The incident left four people dead. The next day, rumors circulated in local WhatsApp groups that a journalist had been kidnapped. A state journalists’ organization contacted Romero to make sure he was alright, and he responded affirmatively.
His death makes him the 26th journalist killed in Veracruz since 2011 and the sixth killed this year in Mexico, a country known for violence against journalists. According to the freedom of information advocacy organization Article 19, at least 141 Mexican journalists have been killed because of their work since 2000, not including Romero.