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

Rights group attacks impunity in Mexico

article19The limited attempts of the Mexican Government to tackle the high levels of violence against journalists testifies ‘to the inability or unwillingness of the Mexican authorities to make the fight against impunity,’ according to Article19, the freedom of expression NGO.

Dr. Agnes Callamard, executive director of the group, said in a statement that the impunity enjoyed by those responsible for violence against journalists is ‘one of the most alarming characteristics of the overall human rights situation in Mexico’.

Mexico is still the deadliest country in the Americas for journalists, according to Reporters Without Borders. Continue reading

Brad Will’s parents announce indy investigation into journo’s death

The one-year anniversary of the death of Brad Will will be marked today in New York, Oaxaca and no doubt other places around the world.Kathy and Hardy Will, parents of the Indymedia journalist Brad Will who was shot dead in Oaxaca more than a year ago, have branded the Mexican investigation into the journalist’s death “frustrating and disappointing” for its failure to find those responsible.

Will was shot dead by plain-clothed armed men on October 27th 2006 whilst covering the social disturbances in Oaxaca surrounding a teacher’s strike. The killing brought the death-toll of journalists in Mexico in 2006 to nine – the county is experiencing increasingly high levels of violence against journalists. It was purported to be the second most dangerous place to work in the world as a journalist after Iraq in 2006.

An investigation at the end of last year by the Attorney General on the case suggested that Will had been shot at close range. But Kathy and Hardy Will dismissed those findings as “illogical and irrational” and have announced that the American non-governmental organisation Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) will conduct an independent investigation. Continue reading

Video: the shooting of Brad Will

It occurred to me that many of you may as yet have not seen the last few minutes of the life of journalist Brad Will – he taped his own shooting. It is strong stuff: be warned. This is a link to the video on YouTube.

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

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. Continue reading

Supreme Court Judges Were Bribed, says Cacho

Lydia Cacho's new book, 'Memorias de una infamia'The Supreme Court judges who voted that the rights of Lydia Cacho were not violated enough when she was arrested, detained and tortured by Puebla’s police under the orders of Governor Mario Marin were paid off by Marin’s lawyers, according to the journalist.

Cacho made the accusation, which if true promises to scandalize Mexico’s Supreme Court, in a conference last night during which she launched her new book ‘Memorias de una infamia’.

In her latest publication, Cacho documents her maltreatment at the hands of Marin, local businessmen Kamel Nacif, Jean Succar Kuri and other Mexicans that she implicated in a pedophile ring in Cancun in her book, ‘Demonios del Eden’. Continue reading

Journalist brutally beaten in Chiapas

Militants of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI) beat and threatened to kill reporter Edi Darinel López Zacarías on 22 January 2008, according to Mexico’s Center for Journalism and Public Ethics (CEPET) in San Miguel de Allende.

Following the assault, López Zacarías, who works for “El Orbe”, “Diario de Chiapas” and “Chiapas Hoy” newspapers, as well as for ASICH news agency, had to be taken to hospital where he was treated for a fractured cheekbone and damage to an eye that caused ocular edema. Continue reading

Mexico, narco traffick and journalists

Browsing through my feeds this morning, I came across this story on the Los Angeles Times which documents well the experiences many journalists working in Mexico covering the drug trade experience.

Although studies have found that violence against journalists stems as much from Government officials as it does from narco-traffic, Hector’s piece really gives some insight into the reality for many in the profession.

Read the story here:

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