Will killings of teenagers and journalists force Mexico’s Calderón to act against violence?

  • By Guest
  • February 5, 2010

By Dean Graber

The killings of three Mexican journalists in January alone, and the news that 15 people, mostly teenagers, were killed at a birthday party in Ciudad Juárez have called new international attention to Mexico’s drug-related violence, which is reported to have killed more than 1,000 people in the first 34 days of this year. Meanwhile, Mexican media workers brace for more attacks.

Editors of El Diario newspaper in Ciudad Juárez held a long discussion before deciding to cover and investigate the Jan. 31 slayings, knowing the dangers of reporting crimes that are likely linked to drug cartels, CNN says. If its reporting causes “reactions,” the paper will have to back down, one editor explains.

In Tokyo this week for an economic development conference, President Felipe Calderón said Mexico is making progress in strengthening its police force, and he touted the country’s work force and free trade agreements. But the Juárez attacks forced Mexico’s crime problem to the top of his remarks to Japanese reporters.

The Inter American Press Association will send a delegation to Mexico Feb. 14 to reiterate to Calderón and state officials the need for more coordinated efforts to protect journalists. IAPA notes it has already sent 19 missions to Mexico in 15 years to raise press freedom and impunity issues with federal and state officials. In the same period, IAPA held six international conferences in Mexico on violence, organized crime and the press, and eight seminars to train Mexican reporters to deal with dangerous situations.

In Ciudad Juárez this week, dozens of relatives of the slain teens blamed Calderón for failing to prevent the mass killing, and the Mexican Senate demands to know how it could have happened despite the army's heavy presence in Juárez, Reuters reports.

Calderón faces growing pressure to explain what is he able and willing to do, and how soon he will act.

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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