The heartbreaking image of a dog waiting for an owner that will never come home has cast a grim spotlight on the brutal murder of three journalists in Mexico in less than two weeks.
A day after US citizen Lourdes Maldonado López was killed in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, her dog remained on her doorstep surrounded by the police tape that marked the scene of her fatal shooting.
The image by San Diego journalist Yolanda Morales went viral online after being shared on Reddit. It went to the top of the r/pics subreddit, which has 28.5 million subscribers, and racked up almost 100,000 upvotes and 3,000 comments.
It brought international attention to the killing of Ms Moldano on Sunday, as well as Tijuana photojournalist, Margarito Martínez, on 17 January, and Veracruz journalist, José Luis Gamboa, on 10 January.
Journalist Rosa Lillia on Monday captured a video of the dog remaining at the Tijuana home of Ms Maldonado, who was found dead in her car on 23 January.
Ms Maldonado, a former journalist for Mexico’s biggest network, Televis, made headlines in 2019 after pleading with Mexico president Andrés Manuel López Obrador for his help, saying: “I fear for my life”.
In April last year, her car was sprayed with gunfire and the Mexican government placed her under police protection.
Mr López Obrador called for a full investigation but cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the motive, adding “you can’t automatically tie a labour lawsuit to a crime”.
He was referencing Ms Maldonado recent legal win in a labour dispute against the former governor of Baja California, Jamie Bonilla – a member of Mr López Obrador’s political party Morena.
Ms Maldonado announced that she won her dispute with a media company owned by Mr Bonilla after nine years of litigation.
Jan-Albert Hootsen, a representative in Mexico for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said she had been in a lot of danger and that she’s not the only one.
“What we’ve seen in the past few weeks is a logical consequence of years of impunity, organized crime expanding its operations and increasing the levels of violence that it uses against anyone affecting their interest, corruption and a distinct disinterest of the Mexican state in protecting its own citizens and investigating crimes,” he told The Independent.
Demonstrations against the killings were scheduled across Mexico on Tuesday in the hopes of change, otherwise Mr Hosten said “the next two or three years are going to be brutal”.
“The only way that trend could even begin to be reversed, is if Mexican authorities invest in their justice state. Successive governments, including AMLO’s, simply haven’t done that. As long as most crimes against reporters go unpunished, so will the murders,” he added
There have been 148 cases of journalists murdered for their work in Mexico in the past 22 years, and 28 during the administration of Mr López Obrador, according to press organization Article 19.
The murder of Ms Maldonado makes Mexico’s average for 2022 one slaying per week over the first three weeks.
The first came on 10 January with the killing of José Luis Gamboa Arenas, whose body was found in the eastern city of Veracruz with at least seven stab wounds, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
A week later, Alfonso Margarito Martínez Esquivel, 49, was shot and killed at his home in Tijuana.
A Change.org petition by Periodistas de México quickly racked up most of its 15,000 signature goal calling for justice for assassinated journalists
“Murdering a journalist in Mexico is like murdering nobodies; there are no serious investigations by state or federal prosecutor’s offices to let us know why journalists are killed in this country. Rather than any sort of justice, the amount of violence against journalists is increasing,” the petition said.
“We demand that the murders of all journalists be investigated immediately and solved.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.