The list of journalists murdered in the North American country has increased in the past year, reminding us of a scourge which has journalists in a state of emergency before the repetition and lawlessness of such crimes.
Orlando Oramas León
Graffic Hondoran reporter Edwin Rivera became the eighth journalist to be murdered in Mexico this year and it is added to a long list of unjustifiable deaths. Rivera was a refugee in Acayucan, state of Veracruz, having escaped from his country for fear of losing his life, as has occurred to his colleague, Igor Ibarra, director and producer of the Honduran television programme Los Verduleros, was murdered in San Pedro Sula in mid-January.
The death of the journalists is becoming a recurring event in Mexico, considered as the third most dangerous country in the world for journalists, after Siria and Afganistan, nations engaged in armed conflict.
Some days before the death of the Honduran cameraman, the remains of Mexican journalist Salvador Adame, who has been missing since May, were found in the bottom of a ravine in the region of Tierra Caliente, state of Michoacán.
According to initial investigations, Adame was found to have been killed by hired assassins, commanded by a drug trafficker nicknamed ‘El Chango Peña’ (The Monkey Rock? Group). The body of the victim was burned and had to be identified through DNA tests.
This year the life of Javier Valdez, the correspondant of La Jornada and cofounder of the weekly magazine Ríodoce, violently lost his life when he was murdered by assassins in broad day light in a central street in Culiacán, on his journey to work.
His body was left on the pavement with gunshots to his head and body. Valdez was known in Mexico and other countries, for his articles and books about the scourge of drug trafficking and his links in various areas of public life, which earned him several international awards.
Amongst others, he was the author the books “Miss Narco” (containing reports from women in drug trafficking), “Malayerba” (Evil Plant), “Los Morros del Narco” (Narco Snouts) (about the children dragged into this danger), “Levatones, desaparacidos y victimas del narco” (Levantones, missing persons and victims of drugs), “Huérfanos del narco” (Narco Orphans) y “Con una granada en la boca” (With a grenade in the mouth), about the prevailing violence in Mexico.
His latest book, “Narcoperiodismo” (Narcojournalism), was published in September 2016. In this work, Mexican journalists explain their experiences and feelings, covering information linked to the organise crime.
In September 2009, Ríodoce published a series about drug trafficking titled “Hitman: La confesión de un asesino de Ciudad Juàrez” (The Confession of a Ciudad Juárez murderer). A few days after being publicised, a grenade was launched against the building. The attackers were never identified.
Like Javier Valdez, also killed this year was Filiberto Álvarez Landeros, a Newsreader from Tlaquiltenango, Morelos (29 Abril); Maximino Rodríguez Palacios, from the Colectivo Pericú news portal, in Baja California Sur (14 April) and Miroslava Breach Velducea, correspondent of La Jornada and collaborator from Norte, Ciudad Juárez (March 23), whom they killed in front of her son.
Similarly, Ricardo Monlui Cabrera, owner and director of the site El Político and editor of the column Crisol de Córdoba, in Veracruz (March 19) and Cecilio Pineda Brito, director of La Voz de Tierra Caliente, in Guerrero (March 2) were also murdered.
The repetition of these crimes is shocking, despite the fact that there is a legal mechanism in place for the Office of the Attorney General and the state to provide protection to journalists and human rights activists.
In spite of the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission, appeals and promises of President Enrique Peña Nieto, as well as protests from journalists and other sectors, and denunciations of international organizations, in none of these cases was anybody found guilty or put through judicial proceedings.
These occurrences are nothing strange in a country where journalists’ impunity prevails in 99.75% of cases. The data is not from any media source, but from the Belisario Domínguez Institute of the Senate of the Republic, which released a study on freedom of expression in the country.
The dangers to the press in Mexico are nothing new. The Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression, attached to the Ministry of the Interior, has counted 105 journalists murdered for their work from 2000 to 2016.
According to various sources, there are drug cartels and corrupt public officials behind the killings of the journalists, who want to silence criticism.
Some journalists were tortured or killed at the request of mayors; Others were beaten in their newsrooms by armed men under orders from local officials and police, who had threatened to kill journalists for their coverage.
However, of the more than 800 serious cases of harassment, attacks or killings of journalists in the last six years, only two sentences have been issued by the prosecutor’s office, specially created to investigate crimes against freedom of expression.
There are 47 journalists who have lost their lives during the government of President Peña Nieto, who distanced himself from accusations of espionage against communicators, human rights activists and even against members of the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts, which is investigating the disappearance of the 43 school teachers from Ayotzinapa. (PL)
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