Journalism is still one of the most dangerous professions in Mexico. Media professionals have the impossible mission of informing people about the bloody reality their country is experiencing, while at the same time being threatened by drug traffickers and intimidated by the authoritiesall within a framework that lacks legal protections.
In April of last year, with great fanfare, the Law for the Protection of Human Rights Advocates was approved. However, so far, the Ministry of the Interior has still not provided any of the 24 state governments that were signatories of the law the mechanisms that should be used if journalists file reports or are at risk. This was revealed by international organization Article 19 in its recent report about the media in Mexico, “Mexico: serious crimes against free expression in 2012”.
The report shows that since that law was passed until the last day of last year, six journalists were killed, 14 had to flee their states, eight were deprived of their freedom, 53 physically assaulted, 52 threatened, five unlawfully detained and two disappeared; also, the facilities of five media organizations suffered attacks with explosives. This shows an increase compared with the years 2011 and 2010. As 2013 passes by, more newspapers, like Zócalo de Saltillo, decide not to report on drug trafficking because of the lack of safety, and journalists like Jaime Guadalupe González from news site Ojinaga Noticias de Chihuahua are being murdered.
Drug mafias pose a great threat to media professionals. But so do the authorities, who are responsible for 43% of the violations reported by Article 19. Of these, 82% were committed by state and municipal governments.
The report shows the reality for journalists in 2012. Today, there is a new administration in Los Pinos that should achieve what the previous one failed to do. It is necessary to toughen up and implement the current law. At the same time, the federal government must exert pressure on state and local governments to prevent the abuses against journalists.
It is necessary to revalue the importance of free, independent and safe journalism. Otherwise, Mexico is on its way to becoming a country ruled by the silence of fear and death.