Cecilio Pineda Birto, a 38-year-old Mexican journalist in the state of Guerrero, was shot and killed Thursday night, Mexican authorities have confirmed.
Pineda was lying down in a hammock waiting for his car to be washed when multiple armed men passing by on motorcycles shot him and fled.
The 38-year-old covered local news in Guerrero, one of the most violent states in Mexico known for marijuana production, drug cartels and a recent spike in kidnappings. He often collaborated with national media outlet El Universo and local media outlets such as La Voz de Tierra Caliente.
Just hours before his death, Pineda had published a video about the leader of a local criminal group responsible for kidnappings, in which he indicated that these kidnappings could not be happening without government complicity.
Pineda had previously shared on social media that he received threats in relation to his work. In September 2015, he narrowly escaped an attack outside his home.
Mexico is the most dangerous country in Latin America for journalists, particularly those working to expose corruption and criminal networks. At least 48 journalists were killed in Mexico in 2016 and 72 in 2015, according to The Committee to Protect Journalists.
The high rate of impunity for these crimes means that the killers rarely ever face justice. Numerous organizations, including the United Nations, Reporters without Borders and the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, have spoken out against the violence against journalists in Mexico and urged the government to take stronger action to bring perpetrators to justice.
Violence in the state of Guerrero, where Pineda lived and worked, made international headlines in September 2014 when a group of teachers went missing on their way to a protest.
The official story from the Mexican government is that corrupt police detained the 43 students and handed them over to a criminal organization, who then murdered them, burned their bodies and threw the ashes into a nearby river.
Parents of the “Ayotzinapa 43” reject this version of events and continue to seek justice for their disappeared children. In recent years, this case has served as an example of the widespread violence and impunity in Mexico.