The War against the Journalists in Mexico

The journalism has its risks, we know that, but sometimes those risks are worse when there are criminal groups that commit attacks directly against the professionals of the information.

That is happening now in Mexico, mostly in states as Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Veracruz and Michoacán, even in Mexico City, where the organized crimes are operating and don’t want  anybody to disclose what they are doing.

Just during the government of Javier Duarte in Veracruz, Article 19 says that 15 journalists have been murdered.

The most recently case was Anabel Flores Salazar, 32, who was freelancer. She was kidnaped in Orizaba, Veracruz, and two days later her body was found in Puebla, at 1+580 kilometer of the highway Cuacnopalan-Oaxaca.

Besides of the murdered, the organization Article 19 reported that 23 journalists have disappeared in Mexico during 12 years, from 2003 to 2015, two per year. This is the country with more cases.

“Tamaulipas is the entity with more cases, with six; after that come Michoacán and Veracruz, four in each one”, it was written in the report of Article 19 that was released at February 8.

The organization revealed that there were threats in 3 of 5 incidents, joined that 96% of the journalists were investigating corruption or public security cases.

cpj

Every year, the Committee to Protect Journalists develops a map with the countries of high risk for the journalists; Mexico is considered one of the more dangerous.

The web site “Journalists at Risk” develops a map of the reporters murdered in Mexico. In 2015 they confirmed seven homicides, mostly in Oaxaca and Veracruz, including one CEO of a local newspaper in the second state.

“There is impunity in the seven incidents, and there is not a good intention from the authorities to resolve those cases”, indicates a site report.

In 2011, in Tijuana, Baja California, I went to a meeting with the US Consul, Steven Kashkett, in that city and colleagues from different media corporations, as TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. In that moment, that state, as well as Chihuahua, Monterrey and Tamaulipas were some of the worst areas to be a reporter, editor, photographer or news manager.

During that time the magazine Zeta and its reporters have been threatened or attacked by the organized crime.

One day they were afraid to answer any calls to go and cover a homicide or something related to the cartels, said one of the reporters at the meeting.  She continued: When we heard that some of our colleagues disappeared, we knew that the police will find the body soon, or he or she will never be back. It was horrible at that time.

Until now we are just talking about murders or people who disappeared, but there are threats or beatings to some journalists, even for public servants, especially if the coverage is about organized crime.

In 2014, the Committee to Protect Journalists published the report Attacks on the Press. Journalism on the World’s Front Lines, where the article “Gunmen Rule Neza and the Press Outskirst of Mexico City”, written by Mike O’Connor, was included. This is about the threats against the reporters in the metropolitan area of the biggest city in Mexico.

“News coverages of the states where cartels are gaining influence or control has been badly hurt by the same problem that keeps Mexico City uninformed about what’s happening in Neza: Reporters in the state often can’t report the real story because they are under threat from the organized crime”, wrote O’Connor.

The Committee has been documented, from 1992 to 2015, the killing of 32 people whose profession was report the news.

So, the war of the organized crime is not just against the government –when this one is really facing the criminals– because the organized crime is fighting the journalists as well.

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