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Murdered Mexican journalist couldn’t resist a great story

Female bar owner charged with hiring hit men to kidnapped and kill crime reporter

Journalists hold a vigil at Gregorio Jiménez's funeral on Wednesday.
Journalists hold a vigil at Gregorio Jiménez's funeral on Wednesday.EFE

Gregorio “Goyo” Jiménez started out his career as an events photographer for weddings and first communions. When he decided he wanted to work at a newspaper, a friend showed him how to compose a story complete with lead, body and conclusion.

The editor who hired him to cover crime stories in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz state, gave him a journalist’s handbook. When he was a teenager, Goyo learned to read and write on his own. He submerged himself in his new profession in the same passionate manner he used to display when he went to church and while working as an electrician in Cancún.

Goyo was the first to arrive at the scene of a crime on his motorcycle, which he was paying for in installments. He penned his articles under the pseudonym El Pantera (the panther).

It was probably the last story he wrote, at the end of January, that cost the 46-year-old his life. It was about a man known as El Cometierra (the land eater), Ernesto Ruiz Guillén, who had been kidnapped. When the victim tried to escape, he was shot in the legs.

Curiously, no one reported his disappearance to the police, Goyo noted. His newspaper Notisur headlined the story: “The man the earth swallowed.”

A week later, several armed men burst into Goyo’s home and abducted him at gunpoint. On Tuesday, police found his body in a grave, along with that of El Cometierra.

Goyo’s murder has made headlines across the country and is having a political and social impact as well. Journalists across Mexico, especially in Veracruz state’s principle cities Xalapa, Coatzacoalcos and the capital, Veracruz, held public vigils on Wednesday – the day after authorities announced that they had found Goyo’s body. Lawmakers pressed the police to make the case a priority.

Five people have been arrested in connection with the inquiry, including Teresa de Jesús Hernández Cruz, the owner of a bar who apparently had an argument with the newspaper journalist, Veracruz prosecutor Amadeo Flores Espinosa said. But his family refutes that theory and said during his funeral that it was his journalistic work that had got him into trouble, the Mexico City daily El Universal reported.

Since the beginning of the year, Goyo had been reporting on the rise in kidnappings in his city. Coatzacoalcos is on a route used by many Central Americans traveling on foot in an attempt to reach the United States.

The owner of the bar, De Jesús, allegedly told him to stop prying into everyone’s business, and reportedly paid 20,000 pesos (about 1,100 euros) to four men to kidnap and kill him.

Goyo’s wife Carmela said that she had asked him to stop writing about crime and move his family to Cancún, where he could take pictures for tourists. But the juicy story of El Cometierra fell into his lap, and like any good journalist, El Pantera couldn’t resist writing about it.

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