16 October 2014


Violence and attacks on journalists and news media continued to increase in these last six months. It ranged from intimidation and attacks to imprisonment, an attempt to enact a gag law and there was even a return to the old practice of cloning news items so as to obstruct the work of media critical of the government. In many cases those carrying out these violations were public officials. On October 16, doctor Maria del Rosario Fuentes Rubio, cyber-activist and collaborator of the reporting page Valor por Tamaulipas was kidnapped at the city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas. She worked in a hospital where she would have taken care of a drug dealer’s relative. She was kidnapped together with another physician and a nurse. Kidnappers later used her Twitter account to publish two photos. In one of the pictures she was shown alive and in the other she was shown dead in warning to other cyber-activists. The account was closed. Members of the network Valor por Tamaulipas informed on the murder of Fuentes Rubio, but the authorities didn’t.  No information has been received of the whereabouts of the other individuals kidnapped with her.  Her murder adds to others occurred in previous years in Tamaulipas aimed at spreading fear and preventing violence allegations and civil actions. On August 11 the murder occurred of journalist Octavio Rojas, a stringer for the newspaper El BuenTono in Oaxaca. An armed group shot him as he was covering matters related to organized crime. Two days earlier he had written about a military operation to arrest a criminal gang known as the “Chupadictos” (Suck Addicts), in which he suggested that a member of it was the local police chief, at the time a fugitive. In this period there were reported 87 attacks on the press, among them 13 arbitrary arrests and eight libel suits and those for other offenses. Michoacán, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Quintana Roo, Federal District and Guerrero continue to be the most dangerous states to work in as a journalist. Women continue to be the most vulnerable to attacks, as documented by the National Human Rights Network, with 41 violent acts directed at human rights defenders and female journalists. All this is occurring despite the existence of a Special Prosecutor’s Office and even a Mechanism for the Protection of Journalists which while it is three years since it was created it was only recently, in May, that its operational guidelines were set out. To date this agency has provided 85 protective measures. A report made by President Enrique Peña Nieto details that between September 2013 and July 2014 there were initiated 198 prior investigations into crimes against journalists and in 15 cases criminal action was taken against those responsible. In 11 cases the federal government authorized no criminal action to be taken, 12 files were accumulated and 69 investigations were classified as incompetent, meaning that according to the government 107 cases have been concluded. In addition, it was said that follow-up was given to 48 precautionary measures, of which 27 were sent to the Mechanism for the Protection of Journalists and 21 to government  bodies. The government also reported that it had given courses on the Manual on Prevention of Crimes Against Freedom of Expression to 937 journalists and media executives in Baja California, Coahuila, Colima, Durango, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Michoacán and Federal District. Regarding legal restrictions, on July 31 the Sinaloa Congress passed an initiative sent by Governor Mario López Valdez to amend Article 51-B of the Attorney General’s Office Organic Law, in which it is established that news media may only have access to information about investigations through press releases of the Access to Public Information Unit. In addition, reporters would be denied access to places where crimes are committed and banned would be the recording, videoing or photographing of people involved in a criminal act, as well as restricting publication of information related to public security or the Attorney General’s Office. Due to strong criticism on August 5 it was decided not to publish the decree. Fifteen days later Congress threw out Article 51-B. There is expectation about a new General Law on the Rights of Male and Female Children and Adolescents sent by President Enrique Peña Nieto to Congress, which contains articles that would criminalize the press and threatens to go against the right to information. This law would prohibit the dissemination of data, images and references concerning minors in any situation, including those who have taken part in a crime, with punishment of 500,000 pesos a day for those media that break the law. Chronology of other relevant events: On April 7 the Veracruz newspaper El Buen Tono filed a formal complaint with the Attorney General’s Office after receiving telephoned threats to attack its offices. This complaint was in addition to one made by the same paper in 2011 when its building was sprayed with gasoline and set afire. The group of 20 armed people that carried out the attack have not been identified. On April 18 the home of Miguel Badillo, editor of the magazine Contralínea in Mexico City, which has been receiving threats since August 2007, was burgled. On May 5 hooded men intercepted Gustavo Sánchez, chief executive of the news Web site La Policiaca del Istmo in Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, and threatened to kill him. Martha Durán, correspondent in Mexico of Radio Nederland, received death threats for her reporting on the murder of a young Dutch woman in Ciudad Juárez. Erick Rafael Sánchez, a cameraman with the Grupo Imagen Multimedia group, was beaten by Michoacán state police officers, who also took his video equipment as he was covering an operation at a mall in the state capital. Iván Galán Rocha of the Esquema news agency complained to the Tuxpan municipal council chairman for his having ordered his arrest and for being beaten up because of his criticism of that authority. Jaime Lagunas and Armando Solís with the newspaper La Voz de Michoacán and Javier Maldonado, head of the Noventa Grados news agency, were beaten by police officers while doing a report. On June 10 journalists, among them Marco Ugarte, an Associated Press freelance news photographer, Paris Martínez of the magazine Animal Político, Luis Castillo of the newspaper Reforma and Néstor Negrete, a freelancer, were beaten by hooded assailants identified as anarchists during a street protest in Mexico City. On June 23 the magazine Contralínea was attacked and its electronic equipment seized. The attackers cut the cables of the surveillance cameras that had been installed as part of the Mechanism for the Protection of Journalists. That same month in Baja California two news media outlets received online attacks. The Web site Pregonero was attacked at least 11 times, disrupting its operation. The attacks on the Web site Periodismo Negro began on June 20 and continued through that weekend. Its director, Jaime Delgado, denounced that he had received threatening messages from members of a political party over his criticism of the government. A week before receiving the threat the Web site he heads was cited in a libel suit filed with the Baja California Attorney General’s Office by a former Congressman of the ruling PAN party. On August 1 an illegal armed group shot at the pickup truck of Indalecio Benítez, a community radio host, in Luvianos, Mexico State. Bullets struck his son Juan Diego, who died on the spot. When Benítez went to file a formal denunciation with the Attorney General’s Office he was not let in, as it was a weekend. It was not until the Monday that he was able to file the denunciation, but it was not recorded as an attack on a member of the press. The Federal Police only came to take evidence. Benítez and his family continue to have no protection. In August during coverage of protests by the Movimiento Magisterial group in Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, three reporters – Karina García Sosa, correspondent of MVS radio, Jasmín Gómez chair of the Prensa Oaxaca group, and Sarí Jiménez, reporter with ADN Sureste – were attacked, their assailants making off with their cameras and tape recorders. On August 30 jailed was Pedro Cache, a freelance journalist, who taped a demonstration for higher wages in the water provision service in the town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Quintana Roo. He was charged with sabotage. On September 2 the home of reporter Ignacio Domínguez with the weekly Tinta Verde in Xalapa, Veracruz, was shot at and the attackers left a pig’s head at the door, with a message. Nothing is known about who carried out the attack. The state Attorney General’s Office took up the case. On September 4 a group of four police officers raided the offices of the Silao, Guanajuato, newspaper El Heraldo, beating up reporter Karla Silva and warning her to stop writing reports critical of the municipal administration. Several days later the assailants were arrested, along with the chief of police on a charge of having masterminded the attack. On September 26 the home of Margarito Juárez, a reporter with the newspaper Página 24 in Fresnillo, Zacatecas, was shot at. He had published a report about links between local officials and organized crime. The Quintana Roo magazine Luces del Siglo suffered seven times, between May and June, the cloning of its online front page. Over the last three years it has been cloned 27 times, three of them physically. The magazine’s executives accused the state governor. The case remains under investigation following denunciations to the Attorney General’s Office and Human Rights Unit.