23 December 2010
Mexico Geography of Risks
In January 2010 work was put under way that would nourish the Geography of Risks in Mexico, first the planning and then the collection and analysis of documentary information on the state of attacks on journalists and news media in the country.
In January 2010 work was put under way that would nourish the Geography of Risks in Mexico, first the planning and then the collection and analysis of documentary information on the state of attacks on journalists and news media in the country. The next step was traveling around Mexico, visiting the main cities and those communities in which attacks on journalists have been reported, which enabled the putting together of documentary sources, and testimonies of victims and newsroom staff of all levels and family members of murdered or disappeared colleagues. In addition, the application of surveys and interviews with public officials produced a series of conclusions that are summarized as follows: Groups that form part of organized crime control news medias agendas in several cities in the country, through threats, torture or abductions, censoring out dissemination of information about the illicit drug trade and official corruption. Self-censorship has extended to the six states on the border with the United States. It is also common practice in another seven provinces in inland Mexico. Threats and intimidations have extended to practically the whole of Mexico and are more serious where drug trafficking has a strong presence. This is done through telephone calls, text messages on cell phones, messages written on posters placed on public highways or beside dead bodies, privation of freedom, direct verbal contact, messages that members of the security forces transmit, hand-grenade attacks and shooting up of news media buildings, and the placement of bodies or severed heads near news companies premises. The attacks on journalists and media are more spectacular and violent for example, cases such as the shooting up of the front of news company buildings (in Sinaloa), the hurling of hand-grenades (Tamaulipas and Nuevo León) and murders and kidnappings on public streets (Armando Rodríguez, Valentín Valdés and three television reporters in Coahuila). Making one disappear is an often used recourse with the intent of creating greater suspense and fear. In 2009 and 2010 this phenomenon has been on the increase. There has been no change in the failure of the three branches of government to investigate the attacks and bring those responsible to justice, which has worsened the situation of impunity and lack of confidence in the authorities. Given the fear and the impunity there is a withdrawal of the media and general reduction of news even regarding topics that are not linked to organized crime. Due to the emergence of cases of corruption among journalists who work for the mafia or accept being their messengers suspicion of journalists and media has grown. There has not been seen any organized and united response by the news companies in defense of freedom of expression. The training received by journalists who report under risk (specifically on the police beat) over the last five years has been basic and comes only from such organizations as the IAPA. The news media are not prepared to prevent attacks. They do not know any safety strategies and there are no protocols in this regard or awareness of the risks or their magnitude or reach.