Mexico still deadliest country in the Americas for journalists, says RWB

rwbMexico remains the deadliest country in the Americas for journalists with two murders in less than a month, and three disappearances, according to today’s annual report from Reporters Without Borders. Three journalists were murdered last year, and three media workers were shot dead.

Those levels are an improvement on 2006, when nine journalists were killed, but 2008 is looking grim if the stats are to be believed. As many journalists were killed last week than in the whole of last year.

Although on paper press freedom moved forward in 2007 with the decriminalization of press offences at a federal level in April, state-level courts are failing to co-operate with the special legal unit set up to deal with violence against the media – the Fiscalía Especial de Atención a los Delitos Cometidos contra Periodistas – FEADP.

‘President Calderón signed a law on 12 April (passed by the federal parliament) decriminalising defamation and “insults” and obliging state governments to fall in line. Only three states had already done this – Baja California, Jalisco and the Federal District.

‘In Chiapas, defamation is still punishable by up to nine years in prison and a fine equivalent to nine times the minimum wage.’

The two murders last year of Amado Ramírez in the southern city of Acapulco in April and of Saúl Martínez Ortega, who went missing and whose body was found on 23 April in the northern state of Chihuahua, coincided with a vast federal level police and military drive against drug -traffickers which killed nearly 400 people in three weeks, according to the report.

Saúl Martínez Ortega reported on drug traffick and crimes in Agua Prieta.

The third deadly shooting – of Gerardo Israel García Pimentel, of the regional daily La Opinión, in the western town of Uruapán – took place in the state of Michoacán, where a campaign of intimidation in 2006 against the media involved the sending of severed heads to newspaper offices.

According to the report, ‘Such “messages” from traffickers were common in May 2007 during the anti-drugs campaign in some southern and southeastern states, such as Veracruz and Tabasco. Rodolfo Rincón Taracena, of the daily Tabasco Hoy, vanished on 20 January after writing an article about drug smuggling and another about a string of bank robberies. The paper received a parcel in May with a human head inside.’

Lydia Cacho's new book, 'Memorias de una infamia'The press watchdog called the decision by the Supreme Court in November last year to clear the Governor of Puebla, Mario Marin, of any involvement in the arrest of Lydia Cacho as the ‘height of political cynicism.’ Conversations between Marin and a businessman friend José Camel Nacif, who was also implicated as belonging to a child sex ring in Cacho’s book Los Demonios del Eden were broadcast on Carmen Aristegui’s programme on WRadio, in which the two joked about raping Cacho. Aristegui has since been dropped by the network.

Cacho, who has come to symbolise the fight against the repression of journalist and freedom of expression in Mexico, last week published a book about the whole sordid affair.

Video below shows Cacho talking to us about the dangers for journalists in Mexico last year.

[blip.tv ?posts_id=423720&dest=-1]

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