Mexican authorities blame criminals for shooting death of journalist and violence against press

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  • November 10, 2010

By Ingrid Bachmann

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has demanded a “thorough investigation” into the killing of crime reporter Carlos Guajardo to determine if members of the army shot him.

Guajardo died Nov. 5 after being caught in the crossfire between alleged gang members and the army. Media reports from the scene cite witnesses who said the military confused the journalist with one of the gunmen.

However, Mexico’s defense secretary released a report that said the reporter was “hit by shots from a firearm, by a group of individuals traveling in eight vehicles” and not by soldiers, El Mundo adds.

Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a journalist, and the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) estimates that since 1987, 106 journalists have been killed in the country, La Crónica de Hoy reports. These figures “give us chills,” said IAPA president Alejandro Aguirre at the 66th IAPA Assembly this week.

For more details on the recent violence faced by media workers in Mexico, see this Knight Center map.

Not only are the violence and threats against journalism undermining press freedom, but journalists and editors at the IAPA conference reported that more than 95 percent of those crimes go unpunished and urged the government to do more to protect journalists.

For Mexican President Felipe Calderón – who spoke at the meeting – crime is that greatest threat to journalism and stated that there is no democratic nation in which media workers are entirely free from violence and threats, Notimex reports.

The leader also urged the media to contribute to solving the problem of violence and not play into the hands of organized crime, La Jornada adds. His Colombian counterpart, Juan Manuel Santos, made similar statements.

In spite of the problems, Calderón promised that in Mexico “there never will be gag rules or censorship of journalistic work,” EFE explains. However, earlier this year the CPJ criticized the government for harassment and attacks from federal forces against journalists who cover security issues, including arrest threats and attempts to confiscate cameras.

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.