Violence censors journalists in Mexico

This is a version of an article which appeared in Press Gazette last month.

While traveling home through Pánuco, Veracruz with his 16 year old son in late January this year, Octavio Soto Torres, journalist and director of the Mexican daily Voces de Veracruz, was shot at by four masked gunmen. This was just the latest in the ongoing litany of attacks against journalists in Mexico. Torres, who escaped alive, is known for his harsh criticism of local authorities.

As Mexico continues its transition towards a real democracy and the administration of President Felipe Calderon ups its fights against narco-traffick and organized crime in the country, journalists who cover politics, drugs and crime take huge risks. Attacks take place nearly every week and few are ever investigated, according to NGOs monitoring freedom of expression issues in the country.

Although fewer journalists were murdered in Mexico last year than during 2006, the levels of violence and intimidation against them have increased, according to the Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) and Mexico’s own National Human Rights Commission.

So what are editors and journalists doing to avoid serious harm? Mostly nothing – literally. Continue reading

Drug-cartels kill journalists, says CPJ. But what about the Government?

left_cpj_logoDrug-fuelled violence against the press in Mexico is spreading. A report released yesterday by the Committee to Protect Journalists says more journalists are being killed or persecuted whilst covering the drug trade and the powerful Gulf and Sinaloa cartels in the country.

But the research from the NGO fails to address the high levels of violence perpetrated against journalists by Governmental networks that are being reported up by other organisations in Mexico. Continue reading

People Profile: Straight Shooter Dario Ramirez

Dario Ramirez, head of Article19’s programme in MexicoDario Ramirez
Straight Shooter

By Deborah Bonello

Darío Ramírez is no naïve idealist. The 35-year-old head of Article 19’s Mexico chapter – an organization that defends and promotes freedom of expression — has been a human rights activist for more than a decade. He bluntly describes the United Nations as a “slow elephant,” Mexico’s NGO sector as ”unprofessional at times” and the country’s Access to Information Law – the “Ley Federal de Acceso a la Información Pública” – as limited at best. Continue reading

Press Freedom Fighters Demand Legal Action in Mexico

Demands have been sent to the Mexican Government from international press freedom organisations this week calling for more vigorous legal proceedings and investigations into cases of violence against journalists.

Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists both sent letters to government officials this week following the one year anniversary of the death of Indymedia journalist Brad Will at the weekend. Will was shot dead in Oaxaca on October 27th whilst covering the teacher’s strike and violence in Oaxaca and someone has yet to be charged with his murder.

Mexico was reported to be the second most dangerous place to work in the world as a journalist after Iraq last year, according to Reporters Without Borders. Continue reading

‘Mexican Government is main perpetrator of violence against journalists in Mexico’, says human rights expert

Dario Ramirez, head of Article19’s programme in Mexico‘The Mexican Government is one of the main perpetrators of violence against journalists in the country and complicit in its continuance,’ according to one of the country’s leading freedom of expression organisations.

Mexico is reportedly the second most dangerous country to work as a journalist after Iraq. But speaking to MexicoReporter.com last week Dario Ramirez, head of Article19’s programme in Mexico, was keen to dispel what he says is the generally held-belief that the main perpetrators of the violence are networks of organized crime.

“Let’s not fool ourselves and say that the perpetrators of the violence are the groups of organized crime, as the government wants us to believe.

“It suits the [Mexican] government that there is so much aggression against journalists,” said Ramirez. Continue reading