New Year, Old Problems for Journalists in Mexico

Although one hates to be a pessimist, the coming year is still looking grim for journalists in Mexico.

Despite the fact that the numbers of murdered journalists declined last year, levels of violence against them are on the rise and the Government is showing no increase in willingness to investigate cases of murder, violence and intimidation against members of the profession. Continue reading

Local reporter shot dead in Western Mexico

LOCAL NEWSPAPER REPORTER GUNNED DOWN IN MICHOACÁN STATE FOR UNKNOWN REASONSA local reporter, who covered agriculture and occasionally crime in the western Mexican state of Michoacán, was shot dead on Saturday night.

Gerardo Israel García Pimentel, who wrote for the daily La Opinión de Michoacán, was found in the stairway of the car park of the hotel in which he lived. He had been shot about 20 times with an assault rifle and a revolver, according to Reporters Without Borders.

A brother and cousin of his are reportedly missing, according to the local press in the state, and his fellow journalists said that they weren’t aware of any motive for the killing.

Senior staff at La Opinión de Michoacán said that García Pimentel “basically covered agricultural stories and sometimes breaking news, but only occasionally.” Continue reading

Writers and NGOs: Supreme Court Ruling is a ‘Disgrace’

Writers, journalists and non-governmental organisations have called the Supreme Court’s decision at the end of last week a ‘disgrace’. The Court ruled that the rights of journalist Lydia Cacho’s had not been sufficiently violated to warrant legal action against Puebla State Governor Mario Marin.

In a show of solidarity for the journalist, twenty of the country’s writers signed a brief declaration in Guadalajara over the weekend that says that the Supreme Court’s decision last week not to investigate the alleged human rights abuses against Cacho has disgraced the country, according to reports in today’s newspapers.

In addition, a number of the country’s NGOs that work in issues of press freedom and freedom of expression today issued a statement saying that the Supreme Court decision violates human rights. Continue reading

Supreme Court Decides Cacho’s Rights Not Violated Enough

A screen shot from the film The fight for press freedom in Mexico was dealt a serious blow this week after the country’s Supreme Court found that the rights of journalist Lydia Cacho were not violated enough by the state governor of Puebla, Mario Marin, for action to be taken against him.

The Court rejected a report by its own Commission on Tuesday that found that Marin and 29 of his officials had conspired to violate Cacho’s rights. Its ten judges voted 6-4 yesterday that although there was evidence of criminal acts, and some rights violations did take place, they did not meet the ‘standards necessary’ for the court to recommend action to be taken.

The decision has infuriated the journalistic community and human rights groupsin Mexico, who after Tuesday’s recommendations from the Commission were optimistic that Marin would be taken to task for his role in the mistreatment and harassment of Cacho.

On hearing the outcome of the case, Cacho said: “The court’s decision is a defeat for Mexican journalists who inform the public and investigate cases linked to human-trafficking. Continue reading

Spreading the media word across the Mexican border

This story appeared in Campaign Magazine: the website requires a subscription.

English-language titles in Mexico have failed to establish a sturdy web presence. Have they missed a trick?

Immigration between Mexico and the US makes headlines around the world. Thousands of Mexicans cross the frontier dividing the two countries every day – illegally and legally. But immigration between the two works both ways. Thousands of Americans are choosing Mexico over the US – and not just for a holiday. Continue reading

Washington Post article on Oaxaca gets a beating

An article published in this weekend’s Washington Post, called “Oaxaca: One Year Later”, has prompted heavy criticism from people living in the southern Mexican state which this time last year was the scene of huge civil unrest and what one critic describes as ‘some of the worst human rights abuses in recent Mexican history; detaining, torturing, and raping men, women, and children who had taken to the streets demanding social and economic justice.’ (Please see comments below for a response from the author).

The writer takes the reader to a number of local restaurants and businesses in Oaxaca, whilst attempting to trace the events of last year, which culminated in the deaths of reportedly as many as 23 people.

But a local film-maker and others living in the city today have attacked the article for its lack of insight into the problems that ravaged Oaxaca tweleve months ago, in which IndyMedia journalist Brad Will was killed, as well as a local teacher and an unconfirmed number of other people. Continue reading

Fisk launches attack on ‘third rate journalism’

robertfiskJournalists have got to stop ‘kow towing’ down to those in power if they are to do their job, according to veteran British war correspondent Robert Fisk.

Speaking at a meeting of the Frontline Club in New York this week – watch the film here – Fisk launched a scathing attack on what he called third rate journalism, saying: “As long as journalists kow tow to power and sucks at the hind tit of power, wants to be close to power because it wants access, American official sources say, official sources say…as long as it does that your newspapers won’t be read and it doesn’t deserve to be read.”

Fisk, who is the Middle East correspondent for British newspaper the Independent and writes prolifically on politics in the region, picked up a copy of the LATimes and rallied against an article in the newspaper which used ‘several US official sources’ said as its only source repeatedly. Continue reading

Press Freedom Report Paints Grim Picture for Latin America

Journalists in Latin America continue to be the victims of murders, threats and harassment when investigating sensitive subjects such as corruption and drug trafficking, according to the latest report from the World Association of Newspapers, and media in Mexico remains a target of violent attacks.

The report mentions the three media workers shot dead in Oaxaca in October, which it says were probably a reprisal by drug traffickers for their newspaper’s coverage El Imparcial of organized crime, but doesn’t mention the murders of Amado Ramírez, of Televisa, in Acapulco on 6 April this year and of Saúl Martínez Ortega, of the magazine Interdiario and the daily Cambio de Sonora, on 23 April, which were noted by Reporters Without Borders.

Three journalists have been killed in Columbia this year, and one in each of the following countries: El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Paraguay.

According to the organization, the number of journalists killed in 2007 is approaching the record 110 deaths last year.

Witness launches online video hub for human rights violations

header_thehubWitness, the human rights organization co-founded by Peter Gabriel, launched an online community portal last week encouraging people around the world –activities, journalists, students, organizations and the public – to witness and document human rights violations using video.

The online tool is capitalizing on the huge importance of the internet as an information channel and as an enabler for reportage. Continue reading

Mexican reform to change relationship between media and Government

A new electoral reform goes into effect in Mexico today that aims to redefine the relationship between the country’s major broadcasters and the government, and to level the political playing field.

The changes to the constitution could help improve the quality of media editorial in Mexico, and help it to become more politically independent than it currently is.

In a move which has been labeled an ‘attack on free speech’ by Mexico’s two major television stations, Televisa and TV Azteca, political parties have been banned from buying ads on television and radio stations.

Protests from the country’s two leading broadcasters are more likely due to the fact that they stand to loose millions of pesos of advertising income as a result of the reforms, rather than concerns for the right to free speech. Continue reading