Journalists and editors call for continued fight against unpunished violence in Mexico

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  • December 9, 2010

By Ingrid Bachmann

The Mexican government, media outlets on both sides of the border, and press organizations must do more to end danger faced by the press on Mexico’s northern border from drug-trafficking violence and impunity.

This was the conclusion of hundreds of editors, journalists, and academics from Mexico and the United States, who met for a summit on violence against journalists along the Mexican border, organized in El Paso, TX by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) and the Inter American Press Association (IAPA).

While the participants argued forcefully for concrete action from the government to follow through on its promises to protect journalists, the group called on media outlets to improve working conditions and improve worker training to “neutralize the effects and temptations” of organized crime, El Universal explains.

Journalist María Idalia Gómez, an investigator working with IAPA’s Rapid Response Unit in Mexico, said the Mexican government has only created an illusion of protecting free expression by designating a special prosecutor four years ago that hasn’t solved the numerous crimes against journalists and doesn’t even have a database of attacks against the press, El Diario de Juárez reports.

Alejandro Junco de la Vega, the head of Grupo Reforma, said media outlets have been forced to remove bylines from some articles and have directed staff to change their routines to protect them from criminal gangs, El Paso Times adds.

According to an IAPA press release, various panelists also outlined the need for the media and journalists to unite in solidarity against threats from drug trafficking and to demand action by the government.

At the meeting, the OAS’ Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Catalina Botero, called on news organizations in the U.S. to support their Latin American colleagues, SDP exaplins. Botero said media companies in the U.S. are better at protecting reporters from the abuse and injustice faced by their Mexican peers.

The director of press freedom projects at IAPA, Ricardo Trotti, said the U.S. press is barely aware of the threats faced by journalists in Mexico, the Texas Tribune reports. “They are not covering the news on how the Mexican press is being hit and you need [the coverage] to pressure the Mexican government. They need to pressure the government [on] its lack of reforms,” he said, quoted by the Tribune.

Drug trafficking violence has left its mark on the Mexican press, especially in the states bordering the U.S. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) estimates that at least 30 journalists have disappeared or been killed in the country over the last four years.

For more details about the recent threats faced by Mexican journalists, see this Knight Center map.

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.