[OP-ED]: Open Season on Mexican Journalists
Freedom of the press Mexican style. It is a sad, even cynical way of referring to the unending slaughter of journalists perpetrated with impunity in our neighbor to the South, where it’s open season on freedom of speech.
Just last week, on March 23, Miroslava Breach Velducea, 54, a correspondent for the national progressive newspaper La Jornada, from the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, became the third journalist killed just this month in Mexico.
On March 19, columnist Ricardo Monlui was shot twice in Veracruz and on March 2, Cecilio Pineda Birto, was assassinated at a car wash in Guerrero. No one has been brought to justice in any of those cases.
Breach was a well-respected professional who often reported on organized crime and drug trafficking. Her hard-hitting stories had international impact. Recently she had reported on six people killed in a single night in her state and on the discovery of several clandestine graves, among other crimes.
Shot eight times as she was leaving home in her car with one of her three children, she died on her way to the hospital. The child was unharmed.
“We are shocked by the brutal killing of Miroslava Breach,” said Carlos Lauría, of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). “This wave of violence threatens citizens’ right to access vital information, and harms Mexico’s democracy by limiting public debate. We urge the Mexican federal government to put an end to this violence by bringing the perpetrators of this crime to justice.”
Bringing the perpetrators to justice? Is the least one should expect authorities to do. But don’t hold your breath. At least 48 journalists were killed in Mexico in 2016 and 72 in 2015, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, making it the most dangerous country in Latin America for journalists, and practically no one has paid for those crimes. According to Mexican human rights activists, while President Enrique Peña Gómez swiftly condemned the recent attack in London, he has said very little about Breach’s murder or taken very little interest in solving the rash of assassinations of journalists since he became president. Those activists also believe that probably civil servants have murdered as many journalists as drug gangs.
“You kill journalists, fascist state!” chanted enraged and frustrated demonstrators claiming for justice in Mexico City, last week. “It was the state!”
“The Mexican government and authorities in these states have not been making any efforts to stop violence and murders against journalists,” Prensa, No Disparen, one of the organizations behind the march, said on a Facebook posting.
No, it hasn’t, and with every journalist killed, freedom of the press also dies.