After threats and harassment, Mexican journalist leaves the state of Veracruz

Threats and abuse against Noé Zavaleta led the Mexican journalist to leave the state of Veracruz on Aug. 12, according to Aristegui Noticias.

The news site said that the journalist decided to leave the state after filing complaints with the appropriate authorities and consulting with the directors of magazine Proceso, of which he is a correspondent in Veracruz.

“I’m not in the state of Veracruz; there are no guarantees to relax, I have special security,” the journalist said, according to Aristegui Noticias.

Zavaleta said that he has been a victim of harassment on the internet, threats on social media and attempts of intimidation since the release of his book “The Hell of Javier Duarte: Chronicles of a fateful government,” in which he noted a number of irregularities during the administration of Javier Duarte, the governor of Veracruz, according to organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF for its initials in French).

According to RSF, the book names the editor of newspaper El Buen Tono of Veracruz as the privileged recipient of state advertising. The organization said the editor publicly threatened Zavaleta through Facebook.

However, Zavaleta has also received threats and harassment anonymously.

When they learned of the threats against Zavaleta, all correspondents of Proceso in other cities and states sent a letter to various authorities, including Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, demanding that federal mechanisms be put in place to guarantee the physical integrity and security of the reporter.

"As we know, in Veracruz our colleagues have been harassed, disappeared and killed in recent years and particularly during the current administration of Governor Javier Duarte de Ochoa, without any of these crimes committed against members of this journalistic guild and colleagues of Proceso, like in the case of Regina Martínez and Rubén Espinosa, having been successfully resolved,” the letter reads.

For the correspondents, these threats against Zavaleta seek “to put Noé in a vulnerable and risky situation.”

According to Univision, Duarte is being investigated by the Mexican Attorney General for alleged illicit enrichment, and has been criticized for the increase in violence against journalists during his administration. The organization Article 19 Mexico has recorded at least 18 journalists killed in Veracruz since Duarte took office in 2010.

Indeed, Zavaleta’s book mentions some of the the most impactful killings of journalists that have taken place in Veracruz, according to Univision. Like that of Regina Martínez, for example, a former Veracruz correspondent for Proceso who was killed in 2012 and whose murder was classified as authorities as a “crime of passion.” The reporter said that the officials that had her case “have benefitted from Duarte,” Univision reported.

In the case of the murder of Gregorio Jiménez, which occurred in February 2014, the book said that two people implicated in the crime were allegedly “beaten and tortured by judicial police into signing confessions.”

Veracruz is considered one of the most dangerous places to practice journalism in the continent. In 2016 alone, at least three journalists have been killed for reasons that could be linked to their profession.

The most recent occurred last July 21 when Pedro Rosas Tamayo was killed despite having state protection. Additionally, editor of Noticias MT, Manuel Torres González, was killed on May 14; while the body of reporter Anabel Flores Salazar was found on Feb. 9 in the state of Puebla after she was kidnapped the day before at her home in Veracruz.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.