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Family, journalists say farewell to slain Tijuana photojournalist Martínez

Family, friends, and fellow journalists gathered Friday to remember photojournalist Margarito Martínez Esquivel, who was killed Monday as he left his home to go to work.

On Friday morning, dozens of people bid farewell to Martínez with a mass celebrated at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart of Jesus church in Tijuana, followed by a burial at the Santa Gema cemetery.

“He was a great man, someone who gave us everything,” said his wife, Elena Frausto, as she left the church.

In the afternoon, a vigil organized by fellow journalists was held in his memory at the monument known as Las Tijeras. Reporters, photographers, and media directors placed candles, flowers, and photographs under the monument, and for a few moments shared some anecdotes they shared with Martínez.

Margarito Martínez’s wife Elena Frausto, left, and and his mother Eglantina Esquivel Martinez watch as his casket is laid to rest.

(Alejandro Tamayo / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Martínez died Monday afternoon after being shot three times. Minutes before, he had spoken on the phone with his friend and colleague, Jesus Aguilar, who also covered the police beat.

Aguilar said that shortly after that conversation he received a report about a person shot nearby, without imagining that it was Martínez. Aguilar said he considered Martínez his teacher.

“He taught me many things and the truth is, it hurts me a lot that he is not here anymore,” said Aguilar, who works as an independent journalist and with the Tijuana Está En Alerta Facebook page.

As part of the investigation, authorities detained and later released a man they identified as Ángel “N,” the Baja California Attorney General’s Office confirmed Friday. Law enforcement officials in Baja California do not typically identify people by their full names, but rather use an “N,” instead of a last name.

 Family members watch as the casket of Margarito Martínez is laid to rest of Cemetery Santa Gema.

Family members watch as the casket of Margarito Martínez is laid to rest in Cemetery Santa Gema on Friday in Tijuana.

(Alejandro Tamayo / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Ángel Peña, the administrator of what appears to be a Facebook news page, had streamed live his own capture at approximately 1 a.m. Wednesday, showing armed police, accompanied by soldiers with the National Guard, surrounding his home.
Authorities detailed in a statement that the man continues to be an “important element in one aspect of the investigations for the murder of the photojournalist, Margarito.”

Martinez’s family reiterated Friday its call to authorities to investigate the case and bring it to justice.

Martínez, who covered crime and security issues for several media outlets, also worked as “fixer” assisting international outlets, including the BBC, as well as for The San Diego Union-Tribune and Los Angeles Times.

Journalists gather to pay respects to Margarito Martínez at the Monumento Mexico..

Journalists gather to pay respects to Margarito Martínez at the Monumento Mexico on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022 in Tijuana, Baja California.

(Alejandro Tamayo / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Martínez was the second journalist to be killed in violence-stricken Mexico since the start of the year. Jose Luis Gamboa, the director of the online news site Inforegio in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, reportedly suffered stab wounds in what officials say may have been a robbery. He died at a hospital in the state capital on Jan. 10.

A month ago, Martínez had made an official complaint about threats he had received via Facebook pertaining to his work as a journalist, according to YoSíSoyPeriodista, a Mexican journalists’ organization. He was in the process of seeking government protection through the Federal Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, an agency formed in 2012 to address Mexico’s rising violence against activists and reporters.

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