Support for local daily targeted by shooting attack
|Publisher||Reporters Without Borders|
|Publication Date||24 June 2010|
|Cite as||Reporters Without Borders, Support for local daily targeted by shooting attack, 24 June 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c2864602c.html [accessed 23 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Reporters Without Borders voices its solidarity with the staff of Noticias de El Sol de la Laguna, a daily based in Torreón, in the central state of Coahuila, which was the target of a shooting attack on 22 June. Gunmen opened fire on the newspaper's officers shortly before noon, injuring the receptionist. More than 50 bullet impacts were found on the facade.
The attack comes a month after the newspaper was accused of links to the paramilitary group Los Zetas in a video posted on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCFe...). The newspaper issued an immediate denial in open letter published on 21 May.
"This shooting highlights the fact that it is not just journalists in the northern border regions who are the victims of violence in Mexico," Reporters Without Borders said. "Durango and the neighbouring state of Coahuila, both of which we recently visited, are unfortunately typical examples of the climate of terror that organised crime has imposed on local news media. We hope investigators will quickly establish the motive and identity of those who carried out the attack on Noticias de El Sol de la Laguna."
The National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH) has just announced that it is about to implement measures to protect journalists. Reporters Without Borders is waiting to learn what the federal government, for its part, is planning to do in this extremely critical situation for media personnel.
18.06.2010 - Local newspaper journalists, Mexico's forgotten victims
Reporters Without Borders has confirmed in a visit to the central states of Durango and Coahuila that they continue to experience a high rate of press freedom violations one year after journalist Eliseo Barrón Hernández's 's murder in Goméz Palacio, in Durango.
The drug cartels and Los Zetas, a paramilitary group that is in their pay, are the main instigators of the violence and threats against local journalists, who live in permanent fear. Last month, at least three local newspapers were the target of threats or reprisals that were directly linked to their coverage of organised crime.
The Noticias del Sol de la Laguna newspaper immediately decided to stop covering crime after threats were made against one of its reporters, Javier Adame Goméz, on 20 May. The threats followed the publication of reports about an attack in Torreón in which eight people died.
A few days later, Karla Guadalupe Tinoco Santillán, La Opinión's correspondent in the municipality of Vicente Guerrero (Durango), received threatening messages by telephone warning her "not to get in our way." The messages, which were typical of the kind used by organised crime, were prompted by an article she wrote about a series of kidnappings.
The same week, on 30 May, gunmen burst into the home of another La Opinión journalist, but only his wife and children were present. The next day, another newspaper in the region, Express de Multimedios, was ordered to publish the photos of six decapitated heads that had been found that morning "or else the journalists will suffer the same fate."
Criminal code without effect
Although the state of Coahuila amended its criminal code in May 2008, making murders of journalists punishable by a minimum of 60 years in prison with no possibility of remission, violence against the media continues. Two journalists were killed in May 2009. Carlos Ortega Melo Samper of the Tiempo de Durango was murdered in Santa María del Oro (Durango) on 4 May 2009. The body of Eliseo Barrón, a crime reporter for the weekly Milenio Torreón, was found three weeks later.
Two more journalists were murdered in quick succession in the same region last year. They were Vladimir Antuna García of the Tiempo de Durango, who was found dead on 2 November, and Valentín Valdés Espinosa of the Zócalo de Saltillo, who was kidnapped in Coahuila on 8 December and was found dead the next day.
"What's new?" was the question posed by journalist Julian Parra Ibarra in an editorial published on 31 May to mark the first anniversary of Eliseo Barrón's death (http://www.expresionhispana.com/La%...). A year after his murder and the arrest on 6 June 2009 of five members of Los Zetas on suspicion of carrying out the killing, the investigation has ground to a halt.
"Is there anything positive we can derive from this sad story?" the editorial asked. "Are there any grounds for thinking his fight was not in vain?" Like the editorialist, who was a friend of Barrón's, Reporters Without Borders comes to the same conclusion: "Nothing has changed and, worse still, no one says anything."
A long story of violence
Now commonplace, these threats against journalists are leading to more and more self-censorship. Whenever an article about the activities of organised crime is published in a regional newspaper, the author is putting his life, and the lives of his family and colleagues, in danger.
This climate of terror is not new. Violent crime including kidnapping, which is now widespread, has been growing since 2007 and affects all sectors of the population. Rafael Ortiz Martínez of the daily Zócalo in Monclova (Coahuila), has been missing since July 2006. Onésimo Zúñiga of Noticias de El Sol de La Laguna was kidnapped for several hours by an armed group in April 2007.
This sad state of affairs is not attributable to organised crime alone. It also concerns the authorities in states such as Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, where a second humanitarian convoy trying to reach the Triqui indigenous village of San Juan Copala had to turn back because of a lack of security guarantees.
The armed attack on the first convoy on 27 April left a toll of two humanitarian activists dead and a journalist wounded (David Cilia of the magazine Contralínea). Ixtli Martínez, the Oaxaca correspondent if MVS-Radio and the Associated Press, sustained a gunshot injury during clashes between students on the campus of the Benito Juárez Autonomous University in the city of Oaxaca on 10 June.
Finally, Reporters Without Borders regards the comments that interior minister Fernando Francisco Gómez Mont, the No. 2 in the federal government, made recently about journalists as inappropriate and dangerous.
Gómez, who was interviewed by Reporters Without Borders during a previous visit in July 2009, accused journalists of "glorifying drug trafficking and speaking ill of Mexico" and said they were entirely to blame for their own fate in places such as the troubled border city of Ciudad Juárez, where the press is increasingly complaining of abuses and violence by the army.
Reporters Without Borders is of the view that his comments increase the dangers for all of Mexico's regional media and the lack or protection for journalists.
A total of 62 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000, while 11 others have gone missing since 2003.