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by Silvio Gonzalez
August 14, 2012 (TSR) – Frank La Rue, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression said last October that México “has the first place in violence against journalists in the Western Hemisphere, and the fifth at the world level” according to the international body statistics.
Since 2000, more than 80 journalists have been killed in Mexico. That figure does not include dozens more who have been kidnapped or have simply disappeared.
This has made Mexico one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists. The impunity rate is 98 percent in crimes against the press, according to Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission.
Journalists are being killed, wounded and threatened at an alarming rate in Mexico since war on drugs accelerated into a bloodbath of deaths, wounding and torture beginning in 2006 according to Truthout.
El Mañana, published in Nuevo Laredo, wrote an editorial on May 13 that it would no longer report on crime in that city which sits just across the Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas.
This newspaper is calling for the understanding of the public as it will abstain from publishing, for the time being, any news about the crime and violent disputes that that city suffers as well as other areas of the country.
The editorial board and administration of this newspaper has arrived at this decision due to lack of conditions for the free exercise of journalism.
This editorial was posted two days after the office of El Mañana in Nuevo Laredo was shot up by a fusillade of bullets during the night shift, although no one was wounded.
El Mañana was shot up and reporters wounded in 2006 and Roberto Mora García, the editor of the paper, was assassinated in 2004.
There have been other attacks in Nuevo Laredo on journalists, including the killing of Maria Elizabeth Macías Castro. Prior to El Mañana’s announcement that it would no longer report on crime, Nuevo Laredo experienced a macabre display of the barbarous toll of the war on drugs as The Washington Post reported:
“In a bold public display of the gang violence sweeping across northern Mexico, residents in the border city of Nuevo Laredo awoke to find nine corpses of men and women hanging from a bridge at a busy intersection just a 10 minute drive from Texas”.
Mexico is undergoing an ongoing assault on journalists, including the killing in the last few years of at least 45 reporters and photographers, as estimated by CPJ’s Mike O’Connor.
Furthermore, due to the lack of police investigations in the vast majority of murder cases, it is not clear how many journalists are killed for what they have revealed in print or just for knowing too much information.
In addition, the number of wounded journalists probably exceeds the figure for reporters and photographers who have been killed, but no statistics are kept of media survivors of attacks in Mexico.
Nor is it clear how many newspapers or reporters have been shot at or intimidated without sustaining injury.
As the CPJ reported in its 2012 “Impunity Index: Getting Away With Murder,” “Impunity is the oxygen for attacks against the press and the engine of those who seek to silence the media,” said Javier Garza, deputy editor of the Mexican daily El Siglo de Torreón.
Gunmen have attacked his newspaper’s Coahuila offices twice in the past four years and, though fatalities were avoided, no one has been arrested either. “These attacks made it clear to us that we can’t trust the authorities for protection.”
What this leaves, as papers and reporters self censor their reporting on violence to protect their lives and those of their families, is a community uninformed as to the extent of crime in their cities.
Source: Prensa Latina