SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: June 29, 2020

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Valladolid de Xalapa

Region & Country:Americas | Mexico

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On June 29, 2020, two unidentified individuals reportedly entered the University of Valladolid de Xalapa and fatally shot the university rector, Guadalupe Martínez.

The details surrounding Martínez’s death remain unclear as of this report. According to a statement issued by the Attorney General of the State of Veracruz, witnesses reported that two men with firearms entered the Valladolid University campus. The individuals reportedly attacked Martínez at her home, which was located on campus. Police noted that the armed men stole money and documents from Martínez’s safe before leaving her home. As of this report, the individuals have not been identified, and authorities are reportedly continuing their investigation into Martínez’s murder. The university also issued a brief statement on its Facebook page, informing the academic community of Martinez’s death. On July 8, the university live streamed a novena mass commemorating Martinez on Facebook.

Martínez’s death occurs against the backdrop of a reported rise in cases of femicide, the intentional killing of women based on their gender. The National Public Security System reports that femicide cases have risen from 411 in 2015, to 976 in 2019. Several protests across the country have taken place in response to these growing cases.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the apparently targeted killing of a scholar, and offers its condolences to the victim’s family, friends, and the university community. State authorities have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent and respond to violent attacks, including by investigating and holding perpetrators accountable. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, violent attacks on scholars undermine academic freedom and democratic society, generally.