IAPA 72nd General Assembly Opening Ceremony
Report by IAPA President Pierre Manigault
Friday, October 14, 2016, 9:00 a.m.
Don Alberto 3 & 4 Room, Hilton Reforma Hotel
Good morning Mr. President Enrique Peña Nieto, Mr. Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz, federal officials accompanying and dear IAPA colleagues. We are in Mexico, and we feel right at home! Not surprising, since 1942 when we had our first membership meeting in this city, we have met 14 times in Mexico ... in cities as beautiful and hospitable as this great capital: Puebla, Mérida, Los Cabos, Cancún, Guadalajara, Monterrey and Manzanillo, which have been the venues of General Assemblies and Midyear Meetings.
In your name, Mr. President, we thank all Mexicans, all the media and all the journalists for being so hospitable to the Inter American Press Association during our visits, including that most significant meeting in 1994 at Chapultepec Castle with the creation of the Declaration of Chapultepec, a document that is at the heart of our mission, that has inspired other treaties, and that continues to serve as the most significant platform for promoting the importance of press freedom as the essential component of a solid democratic system.
Over the past two decades we have come to Mexico with 20 different delegations or on international missions to deal with press freedom matters. We have met on eight occasions with Mexican presidents. We have held 12 international conferences on violence, organized crime, justice and freedom of the press in Durango, Mexico City, Tijuana, Hermosillo, Nuevo Laredo, Guadalajara and Puebla. And we have held numerous seminars and workshops in which hundreds of local journalists have participated.
I repeat, Mr. President, it is an honor to be in this country where we feel so at home. On this occasion, as on many others, thank you so very much to Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz, Juan Francisco Ealy Lanza-Duret and to all of those that make up the Host Committee and who have made this General Assembly possible.
In reviewing this organization's activities this year, I am pleased to report that this is the first time in nine years that we do not have a deficit. This is significant news because having a fiscally sustainable organization allows us the ability to pursue the goals and projects of our main objectives: protecting press freedom and fighting against impunity.
When I assumed the presidency of IAPA in Charleston last year, I noted in my acceptance speech that I was concerned about the lack of growth in our membership and the negative impact of this on our organization. Since then we have brought in 56 new members, which is not an easy achievement at a time when our industry faces such challenges, so I appreciate the effort of each one of you who are active members and those of you who have helped recruit new members. Today we are delighted to have another important media group join our cause. The Mexican Editorial Organization's 63 newspapers are uniting with us because they understand that by doing so, they will help all media in this beautiful and diverse country move forward. Thank you, Francisco Torres!
Additionally, our strong, or at least balanced, financial strength enables us to better respond to the needs of our members, and gives us the ability to devote a percentage of financial support, from significant donors like the Knight Foundation, so that journalists and media representatives are able to take part in various IAPA activities free of charge.
We have several pieces of good news. We have consolidated SipConnect, our hemisphere conference on digital technology, as a third profitable meeting of the organization that encourages us to fight for press freedom from another perspective: the change, innovation and growth of the digital media. The support of the Knight Foundation, Dow Jones Foundation, Scripps Howard Foundation and Ellen Brown Scripps Foundation, James McClatchy Foundation and other foundations and companies such as Google, Protecmedia and Telefónica encourage and give us the ability to move ahead.
On another front, yesterday we presented the IAPA alliance with Google in the Shield Project, created with the objective of giving protection and repelling cyber attacks on news sites and organizations dedicated to the defense of human rights and press freedom. We are enthusiastic and confident about the positive results of an alliance such as this because of the added value it enables us to offer our membership in its constantly evolving battle for press freedom.
The IAPA, as you know, is a service organization for our members, and those services would not be possible to provide without the time and the resources given by our members, along with the hard work and leadership of those serving on our committees.
Regrettably, I cannot fail to mention the setbacks and restrictions to press freedom that we have been facing this year. The most serious problem continues to be the murders of journalists – 20 in 2016 (up to September 12). This tragedy is even more frustrating because we know that the majority of these crimes has not been solved, nor have those responsible been punished. Therefore, we all share the responsibility of ensuring that the world does not remain oblivious to the fates of these journalists, and that their killers are brought to justice.
Also, it is with great difficulty and regret that I must report, of these 20 colleagues, 11 were murdered in Mexico.
We can only hope that our presence here might provide some support and a sense of solidarity to their families and colleagues through knowing that we will not forget these brave journalist nor rest until justice is served.
The journalists murdered in Mexico this year are: Aurelio Campos de Puebla, Salvador Olmos Garcia, Elpidio Ramos Zarate, Reinel Martinez Cerqueda, and Marcos Hernandez Bautista of Oaxaca; Pedro Tamayo, Manuel Torres, and Anabel Flores Salazar of Veracuz; Zamira Esther Bautista of Tamaulipas; Francisco Pacheco Beltran of Guerrero, and Moises Dadug Lutzow of Tabasco.
I ask that we honor their lives with a moment of silence...
Distinguished Mr. President, you are certainly aware of these numerous un-prosecuted cases of murdered journalists in your country. Despite the fact that our organization has submitted some of these cases to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, we have not received adequate response from the states or the federation to resolve them. They continue to go unpunished.
In this regard I place an emphasis on the cases of Héctor Félix Miranda, Víctor Manuel Oropeza, Alfredo Jiménez Mota, Francisco Ortiz Franco and Benjamín Flores González, whose names are respectfully added with the others who have fallen in Mexico and elsewhere.
We have been the organization that has battled most against impunity becoming the norm in this country. From holding national and regional forums on this issue to our ongoing work for the federalization of crimes and the increase of penalties, we continue to confront the scourge of violence against the press.
We take advantage of this occasion to ask you most respectfully, Mr. President, that this serious problem that affects your country be attended to firmly so that those who resort to violence do not get away with their crimes. We ask that a system of protection be provided – with adequate professional and financial resources – to combat the violence and guarantee the safety of journalists and press freedom in Mexico.
Thank you very much.