As a reporter for the Mexican newspaper Excelsior, Hector Gonzalez Antonio frequently chronicled the violence engulfing his home state of Tamaulipas.
Recent topics included one shootout that interrupted an Easter parade, another that killed six innocent bystanders and a group of people searching for disappeared loved ones. In January, Gonzalez wrote about the killing of a Tamaulipas journalist who was stabbed to death while waiting with his family at a stoplight.
This week, Gonzalez became another victim of what he once described as “the crisis of insecurity” in Tamaulipas. His corpse was found Tuesday on a dirt road in the state capital, Ciudad Victoria. He had been bludgeoned to death, according to the state prosecutor’s office, which has not discussed possible motives.
Gonzalez is the sixth journalist killed this year in Mexico, one of the deadliest countries in the world to practice journalism. Eleven journalists were slain here last year.
Jan-Albert Hootsen, Mexico representative for the nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists, noted that Gonzalez wrote often about security and politics — two notoriously dangerous topics for Mexican reporters. But he said it was too early to conclude whether he was killed in connection to his work.
The group was not aware of any threats against Gonzalez, Hootsen said.
Despite international outrage — prompted in large part by the slaying last year of prize-winning author Javier Valdez — Mexico has made little headway on preventing violence against its journalists. A government protection program for journalists under threat has enrolled hundreds but failed to reduce the numbers of those killed.
Press freedom advocates say the problem is impunity. Like all crimes in Mexico, the vast majority of those targeting journalists are unsolved.
News of Gonzalez’s killing provoked anger among many who had worked with him.
In a tweet, Pascal Beltran del Rio, the editorial director of Excelsior, described Gonzalez as “a magnificent person” and colleague.
“I join the demand for a quick investigation into this case and for justice,” he wrote.
Journalist Cendy Robles tweeted that Gonzalez’s death is evidence that violence is out of control: “It is clear that in Mexico the government is overwhelmed by organized crime. What’s next?”
Last year, Mexico recorded 29,159 homicides, more than any year since the country began releasing crime statistics in 1997. This year, Mexico is on track to break that record.