Governor of Veracruz state denies having discussed state of the press in Mexico with foreign journalists

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  • October 9, 2012

By Alejandro Martínez

Journalist Peter Godwin said he recently met with the governor of Veracruz Javier Duarte to discuss violence against journalists in the Mexican state, even though the politician denied the meeting took place and other alleged participants also said they weren’t there, the Mexican weekly Proceso reported.

Godwin, president of the human rights organization PEN Center, told Proceso that he and Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka met with Duarte after a presentation Godwin and Soyinka had at the international cultural event Hay Festival Xalapa 2012, which took place in the city of Xalapa, Veracruz from Oct. 3-7.

According to Proceso, Godwin told Duarte the PEN Center was concerned about “the killings of journalists, particularly in Veracruz, and the general climate of impunity in Mexico.” Duarte then asked his press team to stop recording the meeting and leave the room, but spoke with Godwin about the security situation in Veracruz and the investigations around the crimes against journalists, Proceso reported.

However, Duarte has denied having met with Godwin, according the web portal ElGolfo.info.

Not long ago, a spokeswoman for Duarte rejected a previous Proceso article that reported a first account of the alleged meeting. In that story, the weekly wrote that Duarte met with Godwin and two other journalists, Ed Vulliamy and Jon Lee Anderson. According to the story, Duarte ended up reproaching them for their criticism of the climate of insecurity in which journalists in Veracruz live. But journalist Jon Lee Anderson has said he was not part of that meeting, ElGolfo.info reported.

Godwin said the meeting did take place, although Duarte did not reproach him for his comments regarding the situation of the press in Veracruz, SDPnoticias.com reported.

The state of Veracruz, in the southeastern coast of Mexico, is considered one of the 10 most dangerous places in the world for the press, according to the organization Reporters Without Borders. Nine journalists have been killed in Veracruz in the last 18 months and several have fled the state.

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.