The plight of Mexico’s journalists

Journalists associations have urged Mexico’s new president to investigate the recent murders of journalists in the country. Demanding that those responsible be brought to justice. In the month of November alone, three journalists were murdered, bringing the total number this year to seven. English PEN is among those  drawing attention to the current plight facing Mexico’s media workers. (08-DEC-06)

The Inter-American Press Association has called on Mexico’s new president, Felipe Calderón, to make it a top priority to investigate the recent spate of murders of journalists and to bring to justice those responsible.  (08-DEC-06) 

Philippa Nicholson reports.

In the month of November alone, three journalists were murdered, bringing the total number of  this year to seven.  According to Reporters sans Frontieres, this makes Mexico the second most dangerous country for journalists in the world – beaten only by Iraq.

The most recent victim of the targeted killing of journalists was Roberto Marcos García, deputy editor of the Veracruz-based bi-monthly publication Testimonio and a local correspondent for the Mexico City weekly Alarma.  On 21 November, García was knocked off his motorcycle and gunned down on the Veracruz to Alvarado highway in Veracruz State close to the township of La Matosa in Alvarado County.  IAPA President Rafael Molina says that the motives for the murder are still unclear but that “it is not difficult to imagine that given the kind of execution it was an attempt to silence an annoying voice”. García had been reporting for thirteen years on violent crime and drug-trafficking in Veracruz and his last article, published in Testimonio a week before he died, had been an investigation into the activities of a gang of thieves working in the port of Veracruz. His daughter, Divina García, told Reporters sans Frontieres that her father had received an anonymous phone call just hours before he was killed.  He had also been receiving threats. 

García’s murder came just five days after another journalist, José Manuel Nava Sánchez was found stabbed to death in his apartment in Mexico City, and eleven days after Misael Tamayo Hernández, editor and publisher of the newspaper Despertar de la Costa, was killed in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero state. 

According to information compiled by the IAPA, also murdered in Mexico in 2006 were journalists Jaime Arturo Olvera Bravo, in Michoacán state (9 March), Ramiro Téllez Contreras, Tamaulipas (10 March), Enrique Perea Quintanilla, Chihuahua (9 August) and Bradley Ronald Hill, Oaxaca (27 October).

Journalists disappeared
Concerns have also been raised about the whereabouts of four journalists who have disappeared this year: Adolfo Sánchez Guzmán, correspondent for Televisa Veracruz television station and Xhora Ori Stereo 99.3 radio station in Orizaba has been missing since 28 November; Guevara Guevara Domínguez, the editor of the online weekly Siglo 21 disappeared on 8 October; Rafael Ortiz Martínez, of the local daily Zócalo, went missing on 8 July in the Northern town of Monclova, and Alfredo Jiménez Mota has not been seen since 2 April.

These murders and disappearances have taken place within a context of impunity where little effort has been made to investigate these crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice, creating an atmosphere of fear that inhibits journalists from carrying out their jobs to the best of their abilities.  For these reasons, IAPA has asked Felipe Calderón to bring an end to this impunity and to ensure that all crimes against journalists are thoroughly investigated.

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