24 September 2010
Forum Calls for a United Mexican Press to Combat Crime, Violence
MEXICO CITY, (September 24, 2010) During yesterdays forum Mexico Under Siege by Organized Crime, organized by the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the Mexican press was called upon to unite to better combat the violence against journalists and to pay attention to developments in the promises made by Mexicos President Felipe Calderón.
MEXICO CITY, (September 24, 2010) During yesterdays forum Mexico Under Siege by Organized Crime, organized by the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the Mexican press was called upon to unite to better combat the violence against journalists and to pay attention to developments in the promises made by Mexicos President Felipe Calderón. In his opening words, Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz, chairman of the IAPAs Impunity Committee, issued a call to action to confront attacks by organized crime and pledged that his newspaper, El Universal of Mexico City, would join, support and respect any effort to achieve unity among media and journalists, adding that we are not trying to lead anything, but to join the ranks in this cause. Ealys call was endorsed by IAPA 1st Vice President Gonzalo Marroquín of the Guatemala City, Guatemala, newspaper Prensa Libre, who stipulated the need for press solidarity to confront the violence that plagues Mexico. The forum was held at the Casa Lamm Cultural Center in Mexico City and included the participation of journalists from the Mexican interior, the capital city and abroad, as well as press association representatives. One day earlier President Calderón had personally promised IAPA and CPJ delegates that he will renew efforts to make crimes against journalists federal offenses, push for stiffer penalties and for the elimination of statutes of limitations in these crimes. During a number of panel discussions with reporters, editors and publishers from throughout the country an agreement was reached to monitor the federal governments promises and support the formation of a state system to protect journalists with collaboration from civil society a plan also announced by Calderón. Forum attendees committed to continue the push for a united front among reporters in order to exert pressure. In the morning panel titled The Mexican Press in the Face of Violence, moderated by Colombian journalist María Teresa Ronderos, a member of the CPJ board of directors, panelists included Jorge Zepeda of El Universal; Leonardo Kurchenco of Televisa TV; César René Blanco of the weekly Zeta, Tijuana, Baja California; Pedro Torres of El Diario, Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua; Patricia Mercado, Imagen, Zacatecas; Ramón Cantú of El Mañana, Nuevo Laredo; Javier Garza of El Siglo, Torreón, Coahuila, and Ismael Bojórquez of Río Doce, Sinaloa. The afternoon session, The Government Faced with Violence Against Journalists, featured Yolanda Valencia Valdés, chair of the Chamber of Deputies Special Committee on Attacks upon Journalists; Alejandro González Alcocer, chairman of the Senate Justice Committee; Congressman Manuel Clouthier, and Gustavo Salas, head of the Special Prosecutors Office for Crimes Against Journalists (FEDALE). The panels were moderated by Roberto Rock of El Universal, Mexico City and vice chairman of the IAPAs Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information. During the forum the results of an investigation titled Silence or Death in the Mexican Press, by CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon, were presented along with the IAPA Geography of Risks project, an analysis of obstacles to freedom of expression in Mexico that is produced by María Idalia Gómez and Dario Fritz, reporters with the IAPA Rapid Response Unit in Mexico. Joint IAPA and CPJ activities in Mexico began on Wednesday (September 22) with a visit to President Calderón and ended yesterday (Thursday) with the forum. The IAPA delegation included Ealy Ortiz; Marroquín; Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information Chairman Robert Rivard, San Antonio Express-News, Texas; International Affairs Committee Chairman Jorge Canahuati, La Prensa Honduras; former IAPA president Andrés García Gamboa of the SIPSE Group, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico; Juan Fernando Healy, vice chairman for Mexico of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, and Periódicos Healy, Mexico; Roberto Rock, vice chairman of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, El Universal, Mexico City; Executive Director Julio E. Muñoz; Press Freedom Director Ricardo Trotti, and María Idalia Gómez of the IAPA Rapid Response Unit in Mexico. The CPJ was represented by Simon, María Teresa Ronderos, Carlos Lauría, senior coordinator of the Americas program, and Michael O Connor, the organizations consultant in Mexico.