San Diego Journalists Honor Colleagues Recently Slain in Mexico

Jose Luis Gamboa was killed Jan. 10 in Veracruz, and Alfonso Margarito Martinez Esquivel and Lourdes Maldonado Lopez were killed in Tijuana, Mexico days later

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The recent spree of violent deaths among journalists in Mexico has caused outrage among many on both sides of the border, but especially from those who share their profession.

“The thought of someone losing their life for the work that they do is heartbreaking," said Andrea Lopez-Villafana, NAHJ San Diego-Tijuana Chapter president and organizer of the event.

At a vigil held Friday at the Mexican Consulate in Little Italy, journalists displayed pictures and lit candles in honor of three of their colleagues who were assassinated in recent days simply for exercising their right to free speech. 

“You need a healthy and functional press to have a healthy and functional community in a developed society,” said Ken Brucker, a non-journalist attending the vigil for support. “You can't kill journalists and have things work right.”

The killings came almost back to back. Alfonso Margarito Martinez Esquivel, a photographer, was killed outside his Tijuana home Jan. 17.

"Everyone loved him, by the way, that he was,” said his niece Melissa. “He was a very passionate man. He was a mentor to so many. He started by just picking up a camera and taking pictures. He was, honestly, my idol because not everyone was brave enough to do what he did."

Just days later, Lourdes Maldonado Lopez, a veteran reporter, was shot and killed inside her car in Tijuana. Their deaths followed the murder of Jose Luis Gamboa in Veracruz on Jan. 10.

"We're going to keep asking for justice and supporting those journalism organizations in Tijuana that are demanding justice from the government and for the individuals who've murdered our colleagues to be held accountable," said Lopez-Villafana. "But also I hope that you will take a moment to think about how dangerous this job is for journalists in Tijuana and Mexico."

The group demanded justice, hoping to bring honor to those who gave their lives to the truth. 

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