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Two Mexican photojournalists found dead in Veracruz

May 3, 2012 |  1:45 pm

Regina Martinez vigil in Veracruz
This story has been updated. See the note below.

MEXICO CITY -- Two missing news photographers were found dead Thursday in southeastern Mexico, officials said, marking a grim week for journalists in the violence-plagued state of Veracruz after the weekend killing of a Mexican magazine correspondent.

The photographers, identified as Gabriel Huge and Guillermo Luna, were found dismembered and bearing signs of torture in a housing complex in Boca del Rio, a suburb of the port city of Veracruz.

Two other bodies found in the same place have not been identified, state spokeswoman Sandra Garcia said. But some Mexican news reports said one of the other victims was a journalist who worked for a newspaper called Diario AZ.

[Updated May 3, 2:17 p.m.: State officials later identified the two other victims as Irasema Becerra, said to be Luna's girlfriend, and Esteban Rodriguez, a welder who formerly worked as a newspaper photographer.]

The deaths come less than a week after correspondent Regina Martinez was found strangled and beaten to death in Xalapa, the state capital, where she lived and covered organized crime and corruption for  the Proceso newsweekly magazine.

Huge and Luna worked for an online agency called Veracruz News and were reported missing by their families on Wednesday, reports said. Until a year ago, Huge had worked for Notiver, a Veracruz newspaper that saw a prominent columnist and crime reporter killed last year. It was unclear what kind of stories the photographers were covering at the time of their deaths.

Authorities did not refer to a possible motive. The state government said it was opening an investigation and would seek help from the federal attorney general.

The killings threw a pall on the news media in Mexico, coming on a day when many reporters were observing World Press Freedom Day with pleas for justice in the Martinez case.

News outlets in Mexico routinely censor themselves to avoid attacks by drug cartels or corrupt government forces, and the latest deaths in Veracuz were being treated no differently. By afternoon, few media groups online were prominently reporting the photographers' deaths.

"If you pick up any newspaper in Veracruz, you don't see these stories, even with the Regina Martinez murder, it was placed in the back, in the crime pages," said Roman Cotera, a rights activist in Xalapa.

At least six news media workers have been killed or have disappeared in Veracruz since the start of Gov. Javier Duarte's term in late 2010.

Nationwide, counts range from 40 to 80 journalists killed since the start of President Felipe Calderon's term in late 2006; the exact figure is uncertain because it is not always clear in Mexico who qualifies as a professional journalist.

On Monday, the Chamber of Deputies unanimously passed legislation meant to help protect journalists and human rights activists, but free speech advocates said the law fails to address the root of the problem of impunity.

"They don't resolve anything and they create commissions," Antonio Martinez, a press rights advocate, told The Times on Monday.

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-- Daniel Hernandez

Photo: A photograph of slain journalist Regina Martinez hangs on a cross during a vigil Sunday in her honor outside the municipal offices in Xalapa, Mexico. Credit: Felix Marquez / Associated Press 

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