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Another journalist is shot to death in Mexico: 'They arrived to assassinate him'

Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

MEXICO CITY -- Radio journalist Juan Carlos Huerta had just pulled out of a subdivision in Mexico's Tabasco state Tuesday morning when two vehicles stopped in the road, blocking his path.

A barrage of bullets shattered the windows of Huerta's silver BMW sedan. By the time the assailants sped off, Huerta was slumped behind the steering wheel, dead.

"They arrived to assassinate him," Tabasco Gov. Arturo Nunez Jimenez said at a news conference. The motive was unclear, he said, and no suspects have been identified.

Huerta, a well-known media figure who hosted a radio program called "Without Reservations," was at least the fourth journalist killed this year in Mexico. His death on the outskirts of the tropical city of Villahermosa comes exactly one year after the slaying of prize-winning journalist Javier Valdez.

Valdez was shot dead on a busy road in broad daylight in the city of Culiacan. The killing shocked many in Mexico because of his high profile, and it prompted international calls that Mexico do more to protect journalists.

In April, Mexican authorities arrested a suspect in the Valdez case, a rare step in a country where most homicides, including those of journalists, go unpunished. Still, press freedom groups such as the Committee to Protect Journalists have pushed authorities to do more, saying the suspect arrested was likely a low-level assassin and not the mastermind of the execution.

Jan-Albert Hootsen of the Committee to Protect Journalists on Tuesday called on authorities to thoroughly investigate the Huerta case. Hootsen said his group was just beginning to investigate whether Huerta's death may have been tied to his journalistic work.

In recent months, Huerta had devoted much of his coverage of Tabasco's upcoming gubernatorial election and Mexico's presidential election, both set for July 1. Dozens of political candidates and officeholders have been slain since Mexico's electoral season kicked off last fall.

According to local reports, an unidentified woman was with Huerta at the time of the shooting. They said she survived the attack and was able to summon authorities to the scene.

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