Journalists and organizations from Mexico and the world unite to demand justice a month after the murder of Javier Valdez

The murder of award-winning Mexican journalist Javier Valdez on May 15 was the last straw for the reporters’ guild in that country, considered one of the most dangerous to practice journalism in the world.

Since the death of Valdez, who covered drug trafficking and organized crime and who also wrote several books on these issues, journalists from Mexico and the world began organizing to demand guarantees from the Mexican authorities to freely practice journalism.

Today, a month after the murder of Valdez, organizations, journalists and citizens are engaging in different demonstrations to honor the memory of the Sinaloan and the six journalists killed in 2017 in Mexico. Additionally, journalists from Mexico and other countries are joining forces to combat violence against freedom of expression.

More than 50 media outlets and institutions, including Horizontal.mxThe New York Times en EspañolArticle 19 Mexico, and FNPI Gabriel García Márquez, created the initiative Agenda de Periodistas (Journalists' Agenda), which consists of six working groups taking place between June 14 and 16 in Mexico City. The aim is to define actions to stop the attacks on journalists. The aim is for the conclusions to result in a document that will be presented to national and international entities charged with guaranteeing freedom of expression.

To mark the passage of one month since Valdez was murdered, various organizations called on media outlets and journalists from around the world to share stories related to Valdez or violence against journalists using the hashtags #OurVoiceIsOurStrength and #NuestraVozEsNuestraFuerza.

“The government's inaction and failure to protect the press endangers not only reporters, but also freedom of expression and even Mexico's democracy. As members of the international press community, we have an opportunity to stand with Mexico's journalists and to urge the Mexican government to act,” read a letter signed by various international journalists that was published to the site of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

The aforementioned hashtags also gathered denunciations from social media users and journalists regarding the almost total impunity that prevails in the murders of journalists in Mexico. Many Tweets discredited the recently announced reward of 1.5 million pesos offered by the authorities for information about the killers of Valdez and other journalists murdered in Mexico this year. Many consider it a sign of the slow progress of the investigations.

On its social networks, CPJ also recalled the International Press Freedom Award it granted to Valdez in 2011. The organization also made a transmission via Periscope in which executives of the organization recalled the life and work of the Mexican journalist.

In the press, journalists dedicated editorials and special reports to the situation of violence against journalists. Mexican journalist Anabel Hernández published the first interview granted by the widow of Javier Valdez, Griselda Triana, who demanded justice from the Mexican State and that the murder be solved.

"Javier wasn’t put on his knees to be killed, it’s the Mexican Government who is being put on its knees by the narcotrafficking, the narco politics. It is the Mexican Government who is being put on its knees because they have it eating from their hands," said Triana, who will hold a press conference on June 19 at the headquarters of the Madrid Press Association, which will deliver a posthumous recognition to her husband ahead of the 78th edition of the APM Journalism Awards.

At the international level, media outlets and journalist organizations also focused on the death of Valdez. The Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University published the special "Impunity in Mexico: Remembering Javier Valdez," which features texts by journalists Melissa del Bosque, Javier Garza, Michel Marizco, María Teresa Ronderos, Christopher Sherman and Marcela Turati, about the relevance of Valdez and the situation of journalism in Mexico.

The Data Unit of Colombian newspaper El Tiempo published a special about the 126 journalists killed in Mexico since 2000 and an interactive map with the location of the victims during the Enrique Peña Nieto presidency.

But journalists not only used their pens to remember Valdez. Some organized to take the streets of several cities to demand justice.

Ríodoce, the newspaper co-founded by Valdez and in which he worked until the day of his death, called for several demonstrations in Sinaloa, including one at the Government Palace of Culiacán.

On the other hand, reporters and activists called on citizens to bring candles and photographs of journalists killed or missing to the #NoAlSilencio march, which will travel the streets of Mexico City on June 15 to the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Freedom Expression (FEADLE for its acronym in Spanish).

Álvaro Delgado, a Mexican journalist for Proceso magazine,  protested during an event where President Enrique Peña Nieto was speaking. He held a piece of cloth that said in read letters: "Basta de Sangre. #NiUnoMás" (Enough blood. Not one more).

Demonstrations were also called for Valdez in other states. In Guerrero, where seven journalists were attacked last May and an indigenous radio host was shot on June 3, the National Union of Press Editors led a protest at the Autopista del Sol, which links Mexico City with the tourist port of Acapulco.

In the state of Michoacán, from which journalist Salvador Adame Pardo was kidnapped four weeks ago and remains missing, reporters and photographers marched in streets of the capital, Morelia, to demand the appearance of Adame and justice for Valdez.

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.

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