Rubén Pat Cauich, co-founder and owner of the online news resource Semanario Playa News, was shot dead outside a bar in Playa del Carmen just before 6.00am on 24 July 2018. An unknown male assailant wearing a cap approached the journalist as he left the bar, shot him six times and then fled the scene.
Pat, together with two other reporters, established Semanario Playa News nine months prior to his death. The news resource mainly covers crime, accidents and local politics in the municipalities of Solidaridad, Benito Juárez and Felipe Carrillo Puerto, among others.
In June 2017, Pat told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that he had been briefly detained, beaten and threatened by municipal police after he published a story about a banner hung by a drug cartel which accused the police in Playa del Carmen of having links to a rival cartel, “They told me to stop publishing articles about a local police chief, and that I knew what would be coming to me if I didn’t.”
In May 2018, Pat received further threats, which he reported to federal and Quintana Roo state authorities. Authorities enrolled him in a protection scheme under the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, which operates under the auspices of the federal Interior Secretariat. His protections, which were in place at the time of his killing, included a panic button and a GPS.
On 29 June 2018, less than one month before Pat’s murder, fellow journalist José Guadalupe Chan Dzib was shot dead by an unknown attacker in a bar in Sabán, a small town approximately 150 miles south of Cancún. Pat told CPJ that Chan Dzib, who also reported on crime, security and politics in the area, had received threats in the weeks before his death. Reporters Without Borders (RSF for its acronym in French) contacted Pat after the murder of Chan Dzib. He told them that he continued to receive threats and complained about the inadequacy of the protective measures under the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists. RSF then contacted the Federal Mechanism requesting urgent reinforcement of Pat’s protection but the request went unanswered. Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America desk stated, “The Mexican authorities must draw the inevitable conclusion from this terrible event, namely that the Federal Mechanism for Protecting Journalists failed in its duty to protect Rubén Pat although his situation of vulnerability had been known for a long time.”
On July 4 2018, Pat told CPJ that he had received threats in the comment section of a recent article on Semanario Playa News stating, “I think I need to leave Playa del Carmen for a while. No one guarantees my safety.” Less than 3 weeks later, Pat was murdered.
Sources: Committee to Protect Journalists / Reporters Without Borders
Source (Photo): El País