Pledges made by President Felipe Calderón, legislators still to be met
Miami (September 26, 2011)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today condemned yet one more journalist’s murder in Mexico and blamed the government of President Felipe Calderón “for lacking the political will needed” to implant a strategy to end the violence, administer justice and ensure full freedom of the press.
The IAPA’s reaction came after Mexican authorities discovered on Saturday the dismembered body of journalist María Elizabeth Macías Castro, 39, news editor for the daily Primera Hora in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas on the United States border. According to local media she worked through social media, under the pen-name “La Nena de Laredo” (The Laredo Girl), to expose activities of organized crime in the region.
Macía was abducted on Friday and her body was found the next day near a monument to Christopher Columbus in a town square. Beside her remains were a computer keyboard, mouse, cables, earphones and speakers, and a message saying, “Here are my reports and yours … for those who don’t want to believe this happened to me because of my actions.” The note was signed with her pseudonym, “La Nena de Laredo,” followed by the letters “ZZZZ” used by the Zetas drug trafficking cartel.
IAPA President Gonzalo Marroquín voiced frustration on noting “the failure to carry out the promises of President Felipe Calderón, who just one year ago assured us at a meeting that he would double efforts to guarantee the safety of reporters and pursue reforms so that crimes against journalists would be treated as federal offenses.”
“It is totally unacceptable,” Marroquín, president of the Guatemala City, Guatemala, newspaper Siglo 21, declared, “for the government to lack the necessary political will to implement the reforms.” He added, “The lack of action and guarantees has given rise to an evident culture of self-censorship that is undermining the work of the press and the public’s right to be informed.”
For his part, the chairman of the IAPA’s Impunity Committee, Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz, expressed condemnation of “this new murder of a journalist,” saying that, “while we are not sure of the motives in each of the crimes we cannot fail to denounce them and to call for immediate action by the authorities to solve them, above all when this year alone nine journalists have been slain and another has gone missing.”
Ealy Ortiz, president of the Mexico City, Mexico, newspaper El Universal, also reproached the Mexican Congress for being “slow and negligent” to move ahead on a bill to make crimes against freedom of expression federal offenses – a reference to the debate by the lawmakers on enactment of the initiative held several weeks ago. “Violence and the crimes against journalists,” he said, “are not something that has emerged in 2011; for years we have witnessed how criminals continue to gain ground and use violence to settle their disputes, and meanwhile in Mexico the fact remains that strong decisions are not made.”
In November last year, during the IAPA’s General Assembly in Mérida, federal legislators from the Chamber of Deputies’ Special Committee for Following Up Attacks Upon Journalists promised to work on the proposal for federalization, stiffening of penalties and crimes against journalists being exempt from statutes of limitations. There has, however, been no progress on this to date.
The IAPA made its views on the issue known to the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Dealing With Crimes Against Journalists during its Hemisphere Conference of Universities held late last month in Puebla, Mexico, when it criticized the lack of concrete action to solve more than a hundred crimes committed in the last two decades.
In addition to Macías, also murdered in Mexico in 2011 have been Ana María Marcela Yarce Viveros and Rocío González Trápaga of Mexico City; Humberto Millán Salazar of Sinaloa; Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz, Miguel Angel López Velasco and Noel López Olguín of Veracruz, and Luis Emmanuel Ruiz Carrillo and Rodolfo Ochoa Moreno of Coahuila, while the whereabouts of Marco Antonio López of Guerrero remain unknown.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. The IAPA Impunity Project is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and has the mission of combating violence against journalists and lessening the impunity surrounding the majority of such crimes. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org; http://www.impunidad.com.