Journalist Killings Continue In Mexico Award-winning journalist Javier Valdez was the sixth journalist killed in Mexico since the beginning of March. Valdez founded and edited the online media outlet Riodoce.
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Journalist Killings Continue In Mexico

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Journalist Killings Continue In Mexico

Journalist Killings Continue In Mexico

Journalist Killings Continue In Mexico

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Award-winning journalist Javier Valdez was the sixth journalist killed in Mexico since the beginning of March. Valdez founded and edited the online media outlet Riodoce.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In Mexico, journalists are being killed at an alarming rate. Last night, hundreds of friends and colleagues poured into a funeral hall in the capital of one of the most dangerous states in Mexico to pay final respects to a beloved and internationally recognized reporter. As NPR's Carrie Kahn reports, this is the sixth journalist killed in Mexico in just the past two months.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: The pews were packed in the chapel of a funeral home in Culiacan, Sinaloa's state capital.

(SOUNDBITE OF FUNERAL SERVICE)

UNIDENTIFIED MOURNERS: (Singing) Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah...

KAHN: Mourners spilled out into the halls, adjacent rooms and onto the street.

(SOUNDBITE OF FUNERAL SERVICE)

UNIDENTIFIED PRIEST: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: A priest stood before Valdez's casket. His wife and two grown children sat in the front row. Valdez was pulled from his car Monday afternoon and shot 12 times just a block from the office of the Riodoce newspaper he co-founded. Valdez was one of Mexico's best-known journalists, both at home and internationally. He authored many books on the country's drug trafficking trade. Andres Villarreal, the head of news at Riodoce, says while no official motive for the murder has been determined, he believes it was tied to Valdez's reporting.

ANDRES VILLARREAL: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "Who knows if it was an organized crime group he upset or a powerful family or a criminal cell," says Villarreal. But it's not as if Valdez just started writing about drug trafficking. The 50-year-old journalist had a sharp pen for nearly two decades. Adrian Lopez Ortiz, director of Sinaloa's Noroeste paper, says what's changed is Mexico's underworld. It's in turmoil, especially since the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, Joaquin Chapo Guzman, was captured and extradited to the U.S.

ADRIAN LOPEZ ORTIZ: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "The lines are blurred now," says Lopez Ortiz. "It's not clear who's in charge or who's giving the orders," he adds. Several top cartel leaders beside Guzman have been captured recently, leaving underlings violently fighting for power and territory.

(SOUNDBITE OF DEMONSTRATION)

UNIDENTIFIED DEMONSTRATORS: (Chanting in Spanish).

KAHN: Chanting, "justice, justice," friends and colleagues of the slain journalist Valdez demanded answers as they marched yesterday on Sinaloa's state government offices. Six journalists have been killed in Mexico since the beginning of March. As many as 100 have been murdered or disappeared since 2000. Jan-Albert Hootsen of the committee for the protection of journalists says only a handful of those cases have ever been solved. Such impunity, he says, leads to more killings.

JAN-ALBERT HOOTSEN: We're going to have to bury one of the nation's most well-known and most beloved journalists, so that's not a good sign.

KAHN: Based on past performance, the chance that Valdez's killers will be brought to justice is not good.

(SOUNDBITE OF FUNERAL SERVICE)

UNIDENTIFIED MOURNERS: (Applauding).

KAHN: Applause broke out in the chapel and through the halls last night at the Culiacan funeral home as Javier Valdez's mass ended. Mourners kept up the clapping for minutes, many with defiant stares, others with swollen eyes and tears running down their faces. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Culiacan, Sinaloa.

(SOUNDBITE OF RODRIGO Y GABRIELA'S "MEGALOPOLIS")

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