A Mexican journalist was found murdered in the first such case of 2019, authorities said on Monday, as the country set a new homicide record for 2018 – signs of the ongoing toll of Mexico’s drug war.
Rafael Murua, a community radio station director in the northern state of Baja California Sur who had received death threats for his work, was found dead in a ditch late on Sunday, after being reported missing.
He was the first journalist killed this year in what has become one of the world’s deadliest countries for the press, behind only war-torn Afghanistan and Syria, according to watchdog group Reporters Without Borders.
News of Murua’s death broke just as Mexico announced it had registered a new murder record in 2018, in violence fuelled by a war on the country’s powerful drug cartels.
Mexico registered 33 341 homicides last year, the most since national record-keeping began in 1997, the government said.
The previous record was set in 2017, with 28 866 homicides.
More than 200 000 people have been murdered in Mexico since the government controversially deployed the army to fight drug trafficking in 2006.
Both Murua’s killing and the new record show the grim challenge facing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, an anti-establishment leftist who took office in December with a promise to curb the gruesome violence.