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Female Chilean Photojournalist’s Murder Still Unsolved

A Chilean female photojournalist’s mysterious murder has many press freedom activists demanding answers to unanswered questions behind her death.

Albertina Martinez had been covering the violence against anti-government protesters on November 19th of last year when on November 21st, the 38 year-old was found in her Santiago apartment beaten and stabbed to death.

A bag with her phone, camera and laptop was stolen. The police are investigating this case as a robbery and homicide. But activists are finding the timing of her death and the fact that her equipment stolen to be suspicious. They believe she was targeted.

Reports from other photojournalists covering the protests say they have faced aggression, threats and violence from the police. 

“The fact that we are in the middle of a social revolt and a photojournalist was found dead without her equipment was very shocking,” said photojournalist Giovanny Valenzuela to BBC. He covered the same protest as Martinez did two days before her death. “We feel threatened and very sad.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists Central and South America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick commented on the case and said, “Photojournalists especially freelancers like Martinez, are often on the front lines and face some of the greatest risks when reporting on civil unrest.”

The Realist Woman’s take:

The protests Martinez covered have been taking place for the last two and a half months due to government reforms that raised the fares on the subway. Protesters are also fed up with the increased cost of living, privatization and inequality. The protests haven't subsided.

But this particular story, permanently silencing a journalist for covering the violence against protesters, is nothing short of alarming. Whoever killed this woman wanted to send a message to other journalists that if they challenge authority by exposing truths, they too will experience a brutal ending to their lives. 

So far, there's only been speculation about who's behind the murder but no real evidence. It's incredibly suspicious that this woman's equipment, exposing what she saw is currently nowhere to be found. For this to happen to a journalist in Chile is out of the norm, as Reporters Without Boarders rated Chile 46 out of the 108 safest countries for journalists.

This wasn't some random act. Martinez was targeted and I hope the truth wins out. Journalists should be able to do their jobs. Those in power forget that a journalists job is to be loyal to publishing or broadcasting the facts of a story. Their job isn't about protecting those in power, it's about challenging them.

If you want to help protect the free press all over the world, you can click here to support the Committee to Protect Journalists