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

Despite the violence, Mexican authorities stay silent

Despite the murder of three journalists last week, the developing trend of self-censorship amongst the media and the fleeing of one journalist from the country to save his life, both the Mexican Administration and the country’s national Human Rights Commission have remained silent on the issue of press freedom and violence against journalists. 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.

Two journalists attacked in Cuernavaca, say reports

Reports are surfacing in Mexico today that two journalists in the city of Cuernavaca, Morelos, were detained and one of them abused by state police over the weekend.

CENCOS (Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social) is circulating a release stating that journalists Óscar López and Ariel Ramírez Arrieta, of the cultural publication “El Perro Azul”, were detained by Preventative Police.

One of the journalists – Lopez- was brutally beaten, according to the report from the NGO and newspaper accounts of the incident. 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

MexicoReporter.com broadens audience

MexicoReporter.com is now also appearing as a blog on the Frontline Club, a website for a London-based club for journalists, media professionals and foreign correspondents.