One week after the Mexican newspaper El Siglo de Torreón became the target of three armed attacks in a week, its editorial director Javier Garza considers that the protection measures employed to safeguard media outlets and journalists, which include the deployment of police forces, should be re-evaluated since they can be counterproductive.
“We have concluded that they were attacks against the federal police officers that were guarding the newspaper and not an attack against us", said Garza in an interview with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. As a consequence, the newspaper's leadership is looking for more efficient security measures because "to receive protection is no longer a guarantee of anything," he said. On the contrary, the presence of the police "invited more aggressions," he added.
After the third attack, the newspaper requested the removal of the federal police officers, which guarded their building since Feb. 8, when five of the newspapers' employees were kidnapped from different places in the city of Torreón, in northern Mexico. Now members of the Mexican army are keeping watch over the newspaper's premises, Garza said.
In this scenario, the newspaper has stated it will continue to protect its journalists and report on the violent events that take place in the region. "We'll continue with the same measures because it's difficult to adopts any more," Garza said.
Meanwhile, the employees that were kidnapped and released after a few hours haven't returned to work. The newspaper offered them psychological attention but none has accepted the offer, Garza said.
"What we're seeing are fights between criminal groups and attacks against police agencies, and we media outlets have been left in the middle of the crossfire," said Garza. Previously, the newspaper suffered two armed attacks in 2009 and 2011, which haven't been investigated by Mexican authorities.
Garza added that impunity is the main reason that encourages criminal groups to commit more aggressions against media outlets.
Freedom of expression organization Article 19 criticized the institutional response to the attacks: "These incidents make it evident that the mechanism and the safety measures adopted by the authorities are inoperable and incompetent, and translate into acts of evident simulation," said the organization on their website.
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.