01 October 2015
Needless to say this was one of the most violent periods for press freedom in the country. What it does have in particular is that it was decades ago that a journalist was not murdered in the Mexican capital, implying that there is no longer a safe place to practice the profession in the country. Calling attention was the murder of journalist Rubén Espinosa alongside four female human rights activists shortly after he sought refuge in the Federal District after threats received in Veracruz, the state where he worked. On March 27 Omar Cruz Reyes, mayor of the town of Medellín de Bravo in Veracruz, was impeached by the state legislature to face an accusation against him of the alleged masterminding of the January murder of journalist Moisés Sánchez Cerezo. The investigations showed that the murder was understood to have been ordered by Mayor Cruz Reyes, who is now at large. On May 4 journalist and radio announcer Armando Saldaña Morales of Veracruz was murdered and his body was found with signs of torture at the edge of town. He worked for radio stations La Ke Buena and Radio Max. The crime was carried out with evident cruelty. The body had four bullet wounds to the back of the neck and signs of torture. He was dumped four feet from his pickup truck. On May 22 the Oaxaca State Attorney’s Office arrested Juan Carlos de la Cruz Vergara for this crime. The murder occurred on July 1 of journalist Filadelfio Sánchez Sarmiento in Oaxaca. He was an announcer on radio station La Favorita in the town of Miahuatlán. He worked as director of radio station 103.3 FM. He was shot at least five times as he was walking on the street. He had reported having received death threats. Between the night of July 31 and dawn the next day the murder occurred of Cuartoscuro news photographer Rubén Espinosa Becerril, 31, along with that of four women in the Navarte neighborhood of Mexico City. All the victims had been shot in the head by a 9mm pistol. Espinosa Becerril had for a short time been living in Mexico City after leaving Jalapa, Veracruz, following attacks and threats by state authorities during his work as a correspondent of the news agency. On August 11, under pressure from the public and organizations for freedom of expression Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte presented himself to make declarations before that state’s Attorney General’s Office. One week later officials of the Federal District Public Prosecutor’s Office took the statement of five officials and former officials of the Duarte government as part of the investigation into the murder. To date there have been no conclusions. Other relevant events: On May 15 MVS Radio ended its working relationship with journalist Carmen Aristegui Flores. There arose a controversy over the case that was an eminently labor issue, but she, a program host, let it be known that it happened after a report on the “White House,” the property of Angélica Rivera, wife of President Enrique Peña Nieto, annoyed people in the political hierarchy. Along with Aristegui 13 other employees were fired. On March 10 Saltillo journalist Milton Andree Martínez Galindo complained of “persecution against him on the part of the state authorities” in a video carried by social media. He has a news Web site characterized for making strong criticisms of state officials. He also received threats on the Internet. In Quintana Roo state, regarded as the country’s second most dangerous one for the practice of journalism, under study is the Borge Law that envisions the creation of a State Commission of Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, but in which would be included proposals that have aroused the anger of the local journalists union. That Commission could determine, decree, evaluate, suspend and in this case modify, the urgent preventative measures and those for the protection of journalists at risk. The law proposed by Governor Roberto Borge seeks to regulate “access to sources of information,” with the entrance to public events only being for “duly accredited journalists” and “once there are covered all the previously established requirements for their admission.” In August Federal District Government Head Miguel Ángel Mancera Espinosa announced the entry into force of the Law on Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists of the Federal District, with which it is sought to reinforce the protection of members of the press. The Law arises after several years of work and negotiations among members of civil society, organizations defending human rights, journalists and officials. It envisions, among aspects, recognizing the exercise of promotion and defense of human rights and the practice of journalism as activities of public interest, guaranteeing physical, psychological, moral and economic integrity of journalists when they find themselves at risk due to carrying out their work, the assignment of Measures of Urgent Protection and Measures of a Social Nature that will be able to be available 24 hours a day, so as to offer journalists room and board. The organization Article 19 published its report in which it recorded 227 attacks on the press in the first half of the year. One thing pending in Mexico continues to be the lack of clear rules for placement of official advertising, a matter that although in small measure continues being a method of indirect censorship. President Peña Nieto committed to regulate official advertising in 2012 through the Pact For Mexico, but his intentions remains frozen. The proposal contemplated the creation of a citizen and autonomous institution responsible for supervising the contracting of advertising in the three branches of government. The Mexican government should assume a transparent commitment concerning the protection of journalists and human rights defenders, who have been the object of attacks and threats, especially granting public resources that it provides for this task.