Mexico

Aa
$.-
Journalists and media outlets continue to work amid a war between federal forces and organized crime. In the past year, more than 5,300 people have died in the government’s fight against drug trafficking. Journalism has not been immune to this adverse environment, which has worsened in the past six months as the list of assaulted or slain journalists grows longer. The climate of violence and impunity is taking its toll on freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Four journalists were killed during this period, apparently as a result of their work, and at least eight other serious attacks were perpetrated on journalists and media outlets. Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission has identified the states of Tamaulipas, Chihuahua, Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Michoacán as the areas of greatest risk for journalists. The increase in attacks on media outlets and journalists in recent years has led to intense self-censorship. Most of the Mexican media avoids looking into matters related to drug trafficking or organized crime. Out of fear of reprisals from criminal groups, media attention is focused only on information released by Mexican authorities. Organized crime groups have reportedly threatened media outlets to keep them from publishing information that these groups wish to conceal. The effort to make crimes against freedom of speech federal offenses has been set back as a result of new proposals in the federal Chamber of Deputies, particularly in the Justice Committee chaired by legislator César Camacho. A preliminary proposal by the Justice Committee, submitted to IAPA representatives in early March, disregards the years-long work of the chamber’s Special Committee to Monitor Assaults on Journalists and Media Outlets, chaired by legislator Gerardo Priego. This special committee proposed legislation last November to have the federal government assume jurisdiction over cases involving attacks on journalists and media outlets. That initiative was the result of a consensus, following months of work and consultations, among federal legislators, jurists, journalists, and members of domestic and international organizations that advocate for human rights and press freedom. As debate continues on the idea of making crimes against freedom of speech federal offenses, killings and assaults on journalists and media outlets continue to go unpunished. The case of journalist Alfredo Jiménez Mota of El Imparcial newspaper in Sonora, who on April 2 will have been missing for four years, is one example. While it is true that the federal Office of the Attorney General, acting through the office of the assistant attorney general for organized crime, took over this case from the beginning, there has been no progress in the case. On March 12 the IAPA submitted the Jiménez Mota case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Meanwhile, some state and municipal governments are continuing their attempts to control independent media outlets through advertising boycotts. An example of this is AM newspaper in Guanajuato. For two years now, the state government has refused to place its notices in the paper. Below is a summary of killings and assaults on journalists and media outlets between October 2008 and March 2009: On October 1, David García Monroy, a political analyst and contributor to various media outlets, was killed along with 10 other people at the Rio Rosas bar in Chihuahua. On October 10, Miguel Ángel Villagómez, editor of La Noticia newspaper in Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán, was found dead alongside the highway between Lázaro Cárdenas and Zihuatanejo. On November 13, Armando Rodríguez Carreón, a reporter for El Diario newspaper in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, was killed outside his home by unknown assailants. He had previously been threatened, but the authorities had done nothing to protect him. On February 23, Luis Daniel Méndez Hernández, a correspondent for the news program “Enlaces Noticias” of Radiorama in Tuxpan, died after he was shot four times in the back while attending Carnival festivities in the municipality of Huayacocotla, in the state of Veracruz. As for assaults on journalists, the home of Vicente Bórquez Rivas, a correspondent for the newspaper Diario del Yaqui in Nogales, Sonora, was shot at by gunmen on October 15 of last year; it was 6:00 a.m. when he and his family awoke to the sound of gunshots. On October 16, a distribution truck of the publishing company Grupo Reforma was shot at by unknown assailants as it was traveling in the municipality of San Mateo Atenco. The two employees, Jorge Trejo Pacheco and Érick Alanís Martínez, escaped injury and asked for help from the state police. On the night of October 25 and morning of October 26, Pedro Matías Arrazola, a journalist for Noticias newspaper in Oaxaca and a correspondent for the weekly magazine Proceso, was held for 12 hours. He was subjected to physical abuse and psychological torture. On November 13 — the same day of the wake for Armando Rodríguez Carreón — another journalist, Jorge Luis Aguirre of La Polaka newspaper in Chihuahua, received a threatening phone call. On November 17, the facilities of El Debate newspaper in Culiacán, Sinaloa, were attacked with two fragmentation grenades that shattered windows and damaged doors and walls at the main entrance. On January 6, the facilities of Televisa Monterrey were damaged by fragmentation grenades and gunshots from a commando-style group concealed by hoods. On January 16, journalist Miguel Badillo was arrested on a warrant by the Banking and Industry Police. On January 29, Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto was released by U.S. immigration authorities. He had been in detention ever since crossing the border on June 15, 2008. It remains to be seen, however, whether he will be allowed to stay in the United States. The correspondent for El Diario newspaper in Ascención, Chihuahua, had gone into exile with his son after receiving death threats attributed to members of the military. On February 9, the home of journalist Moisés García Castro of El Debate newspaper in Guasave, Sinaloa, was shot at with high-caliber weapons. The shots hit an adjacent house, but no one was injured.

Share

0