Journalists reporting on corruption and cartel violence have long been targeted in Mexico and in 2022 we’re already seeing a surge in the murders of reporters in the area. Mexican TV host and model, Michelle Perez Tadeo, 29, was found dead just outside of Mexico City, on Tuesday, February 22, 2022, reportedly becoming the sixth journalist to be murdered in Mexico since the start of the year. Tadeo’s body, who goes by the pseudonym, Michell Simon, was discovered by a crew fighting a fire on the Picacho-Ajusco highway, near the Santo Tomas Ajusco neighborhood.
The Mexico City Attorney General’s office has indicated that Tadeo’s body was found wrapped in sheets, three days after she was reported missing, Reuters reported. A statement from police spokesman Ulices Lara Lopex, asserts that police are conducting an investigation into Tadeo’s death, and that they have conducted inspections and witness interviews. Sixty journalists have been killed in Mexico between 1992 and 2022 with the motive confirmed, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
A cause of death for Tadeo has not yet been determined, although it is apparent that she was killed. She reportedly planned to meet up with friends for a dinner at a restaurant in Polanco and later met a man and took a rideshare car with him to Hotel and Villas Patriotismo for a work meeting, according to El País. Authorities have requested additional surveillance footage from the hotel, El Universal reported. Many believe that members of the media are being targeted by criminal groups, drug cartels and corrupt government officials, including U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken.
“The high number of journalists killed in Mexico this year and the ongoing threats they face are concerning. I join those calling for greater accountability and protections for Mexican journalists,” he tweeted on Tuesday after Tadeo’s body was found.
The high number of journalists killed in Mexico this year and the ongoing threats they face are concerning. I join those calling for greater accountability and protections for Mexican journalists. My heart goes out to the loved ones of those who gave their lives for the truth.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) February 23, 2022
Tadeo was last active on social media the day before she was reported missing by family and friends. In the wake of her death, The Coalition For Women In Journalism is calling for an “immediate and transparent probe” into her death, calling Mexico one of the “deadliest countries” in the world for media workers.
“The Coalition For Women In Journalism is horrified at the death of Michelle Perez Tadeo and calls for an immediate investigation into her apparent murder,” reads a statement on the CFWIJ Web site. “We call on the Mexican authorities to end impunity for crimes against members of the press. The country must ensure a safe environment for journalists to do their jobs.”
Tadeo’s death also comes amid ongoing concerns regarding femicide in the Mexico, where it was reported that a lesbian couple from Texas had been murdered in Juarez in late January of this year. It is believed that at least 966 women were killed in Mexico in 2021, and the numbers have continued to rise in 2022 so far. At least one woman was killed in Mexico every 45 hours in January alone.
Tadeo moved from Veracruz to Mexico City seven years ago to pursue a career as a TV sports reporter and leaves behind a young daughter.