Freedom of the press | A dangerous profession in Mexico

Threats, violence, death: outside of war zones, Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a reporter. The year 2022 got off to a particularly brutal start for the Mexican media. At least seven journalists were killed in just over two months.

Posted at 6:00

Janie Gosselin

Janie Gosselin
The print

“I don’t know how to react anymore; it’s so painful, “Mexican political journalist América Armenta says over the phone. northwestUnited by The print as part of the World Press Freedom Day.

Every death of a co-worker or colleague rekindles the 32-year-old woman’s anger. Her own boss and mentor Javier Valdez was killed in 2017.


AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE PHOTOGRAPHIC ARCHIVES

Javier Valdez was killed in 2017.

They worked together in Culiacán, in the state of Sinaloa, known for the cartel of the same name. Mr. Valdez wrote about organized crime and violence in the region.

The murder was not solved.

“The number one factor fueling the current situation is the very high and constant rate of impunity in Mexico,” specifies on the phone Jan-Albert Hootsen, Mexico representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). A fraction of the crimes against journalists lead to a conviction.

What is particularly disturbing in Mexico is that, unlike in many other countries in the world where the peak of violence against journalists is usually tied to a specific period, violence in Mexico is constant. And it happens in a country that is technically not at war.

Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ Mexico Representative

The CPJ lists seven media worker deaths so far this year: six were shot and one was stabbed. An investigation is still underway for half of these murders to determine if there is a link between their death and their profession.

Because violence is not exclusive to the media in this country marked by corruption and where drug traffickers break the law.

Femicide is an example. An example, too, of the difficulty that journalists have in dealing with certain topics, emphasizes Mmyself Armenta, when official documents to investigate the disappearance of women are inaccessible or when the possible involvement of criminals pushes journalists to self-censor.

The climate has been tense for the Mexican media for years, but the rise to power in 2018 of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, with his populist and anti-media speeches, did nothing to calm the situation.


PHOTO CLAUDIO CRUZ, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESS ARCHIVE

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of Mexico

“Overall, López Obrador’s government doesn’t actively persecute journalists, but it does a terrible job of prosecuting those who do,” Hootsen notes.

Also in Cancun

Even the city of Cancún, known to Quebecers for its beaches and tourist activities, did not escape the violence and in February an attempted murder was reported against the director of the web publication CGNoticias.

“I am angry about everything that is happening in the country and I am worried,” Fernanda Duque, a journalist contacted in Cancún, said on the phone. I’m afraid it will become more common and may affect me in the next few years. ”

The 32-year-old woman is particularly concerned with health and education a Novedades Quintana Roo. She joined a group of journalists from the region to ask the political authorities to guarantee freedom of the press and to report the working conditions of journalists.

Because, she says, violence is also “economic”: the methods offered by some media are also for her a source of questions about the future of the profession.

The upcoming elections in June for the appointment of the governor of the state of Quintana Roo are making her nervous. “It is always a dangerous time for journalists in Mexico because politicians are constantly trying to make us write what they want, to make us feel insecure,” adds the one who has worked in the profession for about a decade.

América Armenta has an unfortunate memory of her last coverage of last year’s elections. She was therefore working on a corruption story. The day after the article was published, someone broke into her home to steal her computer, tablet, and USB sticks, she says.

“I don’t live in the same place anymore,” he adds. I haven’t slept anymore. ”

Despite everything, he has no intention of changing his profession.

“It’s important, it’s what I love, it’s what I do,” she says.

In Mexico, press freedom is highlighted on 7 June – 7 of junior. This is the name of the association of journalists with which Mmyself Armenta demonstrates from time to time to defend her profession. “We take public space whenever we think we have to,” she says. We almost always go out when a journalist suffers martyrdom. ”

Learn more

  • 26
    Number of journalists killed worldwide in 2022

    source: CPJ

    293
    Number of journalists imprisoned in 2021

    source: CPJ

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