Mexican journalists protest, flee into exile as violence against the press continues

In spite of promises from media outlets and the Mexican authorities to improve protection for journalists exposed to drug trafficking violence, attacks against the press are unceasing, prompting media workers to take to the streets to pressure the government to end the violence.

Since 2000, nearly 70 Mexican journalists have been killed, largely due to drug trafficking violence. The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas has been tracking violent incidents against the press since 2010 in a map of threats to journalism in Mexico.

Two recent incidents, a missing journalist’s body found in a hidden grave in Veracruz and the kidnapping of a news editor in Acapulco, have led journalists to march against the violence, Televisa explains.

After a seven-day caravan through Mexico’s biggest cities, author and journalist Javier Sicilia ended the “March of Consolation” June 10 in Ciudad Juárez, the most deadly urban area in the country. Sicilia, whose son was killed in April, crossed the border into the U.S. city of El Paso, where he spoke about the responsibility Mexico’s northern neighbor shares for the wave of violence. “The United States must take serious responsibility for all of this; when its citizens remain silent as they impose war on us,” he said, quoted by Terra.

In the western Mexican city of Acapulco, Guerrero, colleagues of kidnapped editor Marco Antonio López Ortiz took to the streets to demand that the journalist be freed alive, Radio Fórmula reports, and a state journalism union leader criticized the authorities for failing to solve the media worker killings. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said there is little hope that López Ortiz is still alive: “We hope he will be found safe and sound soon, even if the outcome of the most recent disappearance of a journalist in Mexico makes us fear the worse.”

The violence has lead three media workers to flee to the United States in search of asylum, who the Associated Press reports are now calling on the authorities to expedite their asylum petitions, which have been pending for several months.

Journalists Emilio GutiérrezRicardo Chávez, and Alejandro Hernández say they are “living in legal limbo.”

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.