Journalists in Mexico and Ecuador had little to celebrate this year as they recognized Journalists' Day this week, according to the newspapers La Vanguardia and Hoy. Mexico, considered one of the world's most dangerous countries to practice journalism, remembered the seven journalists killed in 2011 on Jan. 4. Ecuador remembered a difficult year for freedom of expression on Jan. 5, following President Rafael Correa's aggressive stance against the media.
Mexican journalists celebrated the day with a Catholic Mass in the northern border state of Tamaulipas, an area that saw a steep rise in self-censorship following intimidation from organized crime, reported the newspaper Gaceta de Tamaulipas. "Have faith in the Lord and no harm will come to you. You are martyrs for the truth and God forgives," said Monsignor David Martínez Reyna during the commemorative mass, according to Cuarto Poder.
The Federation of Latin American and Caribbean Journalists (FEPALC in Spanish) reported that 98 percent of crimes committed against journalists are not investigated and go unpunished.
Recently, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) reported that 24 journalists were killed in Latin America in 2011, seven of which were Mexicans; FEPALC estimated the number higher at 29 killings in 2011, including 10 in Mexico, one in Haiti and another in Panama, which were not reported by IAPA.
Additionally, Reporters Without Borders (RSF in French) included Veracruz, Mexico as one of the 10 most dangerous places in the world for journalists after three journalists were killed in the Gulf state. RSF also highlighted the killing of four social media users in Mexico in 2011.
IAPA reported that 2011 was the most tragic year for journalists in the region in the last 20 years, with deaths in the Americas accounting for nearly one third of all killed journalists in the world.
In contrast, Ecuadorean journalists observed Journalists' Day with a sit-in in the capital Quito, protesting against a communications bill that would threaten to gag independent media, and remembering the 156 aggressions committed against journalists in the Andean country, reported the newspaper Hoy.
"Our profession is not a crime," stated Vicente Ordóñez, president of the National Union of Journalists in Ecuador, reported the newspaper El Comercio.
IAPA's report expressed concern over the growing practice in Ecuador of using of the judicial system to silence the media and journalists.