Mexican Activists Protest Photojournalist’s Murder

Activists gathered August 15 at Times Square to protest the murder of five people in Mexico City, including a photojournalist and activist (Photo by Roxanne L. Scott for Voices of NY)

Activists gathered August 15 at Times Square to protest the murder of five people in Mexico City, including a photojournalist and activist (Photo by Roxanne L. Scott for Voices of NY)

Israel Galindo held a Mexican flag, which appeared to be splattered with blood.

Galindo and dozens of other activists protested in Times Square on Aug. 15 against the murder of journalist Rubén Espinosa and activist Nadia Vera. The two were murdered on July 31 in Vera’s apartment in Mexico along with her housemates Mile Virginia Martín, Yesenia Quiróz and Alejandre Negrete. Protesters held photo cutouts of the victims of the massacre.

“We’re here in Times Square to let people all over the world know that Mexico has a problem, a big problem,” said protester Efraín Galicia, 51.

Espinosa, 32, Vera, 31, Martín, 30, Quiróz, 18, and Negrete, 40, were tortured and shot in the head. Vera, Martín and Quiróz were sexually assaulted before being killed. The motive is unknown but many point fingers to the governor of Veracruz state, Javier Duarte.

Espinosa reported on protests, social movements and government corruption in Veracruz for outlets such as Progreso. Rampant drug cartels also make it dangerous for journalists to report in the region. However, Mexican authorities say they are investigating all possible motives for the murders, including robbery. Since Duarte became governor of Veracruz in 2010, there have been reports that as many as 14 journalists in the state have been killed. Veracruz is in the eastern part of the country and lies on the Gulf of Mexico.

Espinosa was a photojournalist from Mexico City who had reported from the state of Veracruz for eight years.

Nadia Vera was a human rights activist. Both suffered threats and harassment, which forced them to flee almost 200 miles to Mexico City. Espinosa left for Mexico City in June.

Protesters hold cut outs of four of the five victims murdered in a Mexico City apartment (Photo by Roxanne L. Scott for Voices of NY)

Protesters hold cut outs of four of the five victims murdered in a Mexico City apartment (Photo by Roxanne L. Scott for Voices of NY)

In response to the murders, Galicia called for onlookers in Times Square to stop visiting Mexico, long a popular tourist destination. Protesters chanted while spectators accepted flyers and photo cutouts of the victims from the protesters.

Galindo, who held the speckled flag, said that the victims of these brutal acts aren’t only journalists. “They’re not only killing journalists but students, social fighters and teachers. All people who disagree with the government and its policies are being repressed.”

In September 2014, 43 students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College disappeared in Guerrero state. They were traveling to protest education reforms.

Sonia Cari, a childcare worker from Bolivia, has lived in New York for more than 10 years. She not only rallied against the murders but also against the persecution of students in the country. She said, “I’m here today because of the young students that were killed. The parents need answers to what happened.”

Protesters fought for attention amid various attractions in Times Square that afternoon – among them, nude women painted with the colors of the American flag and a 25-foot replica of the historical image of a sailor and nurse kissing to celebrate Japan’s surrender to the United States 70 years ago.

Efraín Galicia said he hoped the protest would raise awareness. He said, “Our message is to not visit Mexico until they respect human rights.”

Florencia Ruiz Mendoza, 40, an activist said, “The most alarming thing is the impunity that reigns the system.”

She said said, “We want to make visible the emergency situation the people of Mexico are facing.”

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