Posts tagged with ‘Mexico’

The Newspaper That Doesn’t Hold Back

Above is an FJP interview with Bernardo Ruiz, director of the documentary Reportero, on the making of the film. Last week we posted an interview with him about violence against journalists in Mexico:

Since 2006, 48 journalists in Mexico have been killed, but even this is a conservative estimate, Ruiz says. Over the past 3 years, Mexico has reached number 8 on CPJ’s impunity index, which records the number of unsolved murders of journalists around the world. 

The film, both chilling and riveting, follows Seminario Zeta, a hard-hitting investigative weekly newspaper based in Tijuana. Ruiz takes us through the history of the paper’s founding in 1980, during the PRI era when Mexico’s authoritarian and repressive government was intolerant of any criticism. Despite this, Jesús Blancornelas, a journalist fired from five papers for his gutsy editorial stance, decided the only way to practice honest, investigative journalism was to create a paper run by journalists, free of any governmental or corporate interests.

The paper was published in the United States, where Blancornelas had been exiled, and his wife would take pages across the border to edit two or three times a day. To this day, it is still printed in California and then imported into Mexico—an expensive way to ensure freedom of expression.

The film follows the staff of Zeta through its history and over the last few years in Mexico, building a nuanced, shocking portrait of what life for Mexican journalists is like. Ruiz takes us through process of reporting each narco story, the steps taken to armor cars, security measures taken against threats faced by reporters, and the murders of colleagues. The film is filled with photographs from Zeta’s early days, to present day murders and attacks.

FJP takeaway: Freedom of expression is a practice you choose. Taking what precaution against danger they can—and threats in stride—the staff of Zeta prove that the only way to guarantee freedom of expression is to reach for it with all your might, take risks, and never give up.

"You could see our writers crying as they typed," says Zeta co-director Adel Navarro of a murder attempt on Blancornelas. "Because our leader was fighting for his life."

More: See the trailer here. Follow the Reportero Project here.

Bernardo Ruiz On Violence Against Journalists in Mexico

Bernardo Ruiz is the director of Reportero, a documentary film about the violence faced by Mexican journalists, which he tells through the story of Zeta, an independent newsweekly committed to reporting on corruption and drug cartels despite the danger its reporters face.

Since 2006, 48 journalists in Mexico have been killed, but even this is a conservative estimate, Ruiz says. Over the past 3 years, Mexico has reached number 8 on CPJ’s impunity index, which records the number of unsolved murders of journalists around the world. 

We sat down with Ruiz at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in NYC last week to discuss what’s going on in Mexico. Learn more about the film at Reportero Project, and pay special attention to its blog, which has continued coverage of Mexico.

Past Coverage: For past FJP coverage on Mexico click here. For more detailed background, see The Guardian’s coverage of drug violence in Mexico, which includes some interactives.

More to come: Later this week we’ll post our review of the documentary along with an interview on its making.

Another Mexican Journalist Killed
Via the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas:

Another journalist was killed in Veracruz, México; his body was found inside of plastic bags in the early morning of Thursday, June 14, in the city of Xalapa, reported the Associated Process and the weekly Proceso. The search started the night before after the journalist was kidnapped while leaving his office, according to Reuters. It is believed that the journalist was probably a victim of organized crime, reported the newspaper El Economista.
The killing of journalist Víctor Báez Chino, founder of the news site Reporterospoliciacos.com and police reporter for more than 25 years, makes nine journalists killed since June 2011 in Veracruz, considered by Reporters Without Borders as one of the 10 most dangerous places in the world to practice journalism.
According to the news agency EFE, only a few days back, the journalist told the coordinator of Social Communication of Veracruz, Gina Domínguez, that no one could and should live in fear. "Let’s not let them make fear a way of living for us,"  said Baéz. At a press conference, Domínguez said the killing of the journalist “insults the journalistic profession and also tries to intimidate society and retract the government’s decision to fight crime,” reported the news outlet InfoBAE.com.

Resources that make us sad: A Knight Center map of attacks against against Mexican journalists.
Image: Twitter post by On the Media’s Brook Gladstone.

Another Mexican Journalist Killed

Via the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas:

Another journalist was killed in Veracruz, México; his body was found inside of plastic bags in the early morning of Thursday, June 14, in the city of Xalapa, reported the Associated Process and the weekly Proceso. The search started the night before after the journalist was kidnapped while leaving his office, according to Reuters. It is believed that the journalist was probably a victim of organized crime, reported the newspaper El Economista.

The killing of journalist Víctor Báez Chino, founder of the news site Reporterospoliciacos.com and police reporter for more than 25 years, makes nine journalists killed since June 2011 in Veracruz, considered by Reporters Without Borders as one of the 10 most dangerous places in the world to practice journalism.

According to the news agency EFE, only a few days back, the journalist told the coordinator of Social Communication of Veracruz, Gina Domínguez, that no one could and should live in fear. "Let’s not let them make fear a way of living for us," said Baéz. At a press conference, Domínguez said the killing of the journalist “insults the journalistic profession and also tries to intimidate society and retract the government’s decision to fight crime,” reported the news outlet InfoBAE.com.

Resources that make us sad: A Knight Center map of attacks against against Mexican journalists.

Image: Twitter post by On the Media’s Brook Gladstone.

humanrightswatch:

REPORTERO is one of the many amazing films being shown at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival this year.

The film follows veteran reporter Sergio Haro and his colleagues at Zeta, a Tijuana, Mexico-based weekly, as they dauntingly ply their trade in what has become one of the most deadly places in the world to be a journalist.

Since the paper’s founding in 1980, two of the paper’s editors have been murdered and the founder viciously attacked. Despite the attacks, the paper has continued its singular brand of aggressive investigative reporting, frequently tackling dangerous subjects that other publications avoid, such as cartels’ infiltration of political circles and security forces.

Human Rights Watch has documented an alarming rise in attacks and threats against journalists and human rights defenders in the context of Mexico’s “war on drugs,” virtually none of which are adequately investigated. Human Rights Watch’s most recent report on Mexico—Neither Rights Nor Security—documents killings, disappearances, and torture committed by security forces in five of the Mexican states most-affected by drug-related violence, including Baja California, where Zeta is published. Several of the cases of torture documented by Human Rights Watch in Tijuana were covered in the pages of Zeta.

FJP: If you’re in New York, the Human Rights Watch film festival runs from June 14 to June 28. Information about this and other films is here

More Journalists Murdered In Mexico
Via the Los Angeles Times:

MEXICO CITY — Two missing news photographers were found dead Thursday in southeastern Mexico, officials said, marking a grim week for journalists in the violence-plagued state of Veracruz after the weekend killing of a Mexican magazine correspondent.
The photographers, identified as Gabriel Huge and Guillermo Luna, were found dismembered and bearing signs of torture in a housing complex in Boca del Rio, a suburb of the port city of Veracruz.
Two other bodies found in the same place have not been identified, state spokeswoman Sandra Garcia said. But some Mexican news reports said one of the other victims was a journalist who worked for a newspaper called Diario AZ…
…The deaths come less than a week after correspondent Regina Martinez was found strangled and beaten to death in Xalapa, the state capital, where she lived and covered organized crime and corruption for  the Proceso newsweekly magazine.

More Journalists Murdered In Mexico

Via the Los Angeles Times:

MEXICO CITY — Two missing news photographers were found dead Thursday in southeastern Mexico, officials said, marking a grim week for journalists in the violence-plagued state of Veracruz after the weekend killing of a Mexican magazine correspondent.

The photographers, identified as Gabriel Huge and Guillermo Luna, were found dismembered and bearing signs of torture in a housing complex in Boca del Rio, a suburb of the port city of Veracruz.

Two other bodies found in the same place have not been identified, state spokeswoman Sandra Garcia said. But some Mexican news reports said one of the other victims was a journalist who worked for a newspaper called Diario AZ…

…The deaths come less than a week after correspondent Regina Martinez was found strangled and beaten to death in Xalapa, the state capital, where she lived and covered organized crime and corruption for  the Proceso newsweekly magazine.

Mexico Decides to Protect Journalists; Iowa Decides to Criminalize Them

Okay, these are two pretty unrelated stories, except that they both address what journalists who report on tough stuff have to deal with. 

First, some good news:

In Mexico, where journalists who report on crime are regularly threatened, attacked, and killed, the Senate finally approved a constitutional amendment that federalizes criminal attacks on journalists.

Some background:

Over the past three years, Mexico has climbed to number 8 on the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 2011 “Impunity Index,” which tallies the unsolved murders of journalists around the world.  And that’s to say nothing of those who are murdered after commenting on crime via social media – an alarming trend in recent years.  

(via Citizen Media Law Project)

Thanks to the new amendment, journalists can now turn to federal authorities, who have a better reputation dealing with corruption than local cops, whose hands are often in the pockets of drug cartels.

Now, some bad news:

Iowa just passed HF 589, which is better known as the “Ag Gag” law. It criminalizes investigative journalists who take jobs at factory farms seeking to document food safety and animal welfare abuses. 

The law [makes] it a crime to give a false statement on an “agricultural production” job application. This lets factory farms and slaughterhouses screen out potential whistleblowers simply by asking on job applications, “Are you affiliated with a news organization, labor union, or animal protection group?”

Why does this matter?

In recent years, these undercover videos have spurred changes in our food system by showing consumers the disturbing truth about where most of today’s meat, eggs, and dairy is produced. Undercover investigations have directly led to America’s largest meat recalls, as well as to the closure of several slaughterhouses that had egregiously cruel animal handling practices.

(via The Atlantic)

You win some, you lose some.

Killing Reporters Now a Federal Offense in Mexico →

The Mexican senate passed a bill yesterday that makes killing reporters — and any infringement on freedom of information — a federal offense. As we noted earlier, 40 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2006 with very little follow through in police investigations.

The hope is that elevating such crimes to the federal level will lead to better investigations and prosecutions. The belief being that there’s less corruption at that level.

Via Reporters Without Borders:

The federal senate’s 95 members yesterday unanimously passed an amendment to article 73 of the constitution allowing the federal courts and investigators to deal with crimes that threaten the work of journalists and freedom of information. The amendment was already approved by the lower house last November.

The amendment says: “The federal authorities will also be able to try crimes under state jurisdiction when they are linked to federal crimes or when they are crimes against journalists, persons or installations that affect, limit or impinge on the right to information or the freedoms of expression and publication.” 

Mexico is ranked 149 out of 179 countries on Reporters Without Borders annual press freedom index.

Mexico Proposes Elevating Journalist Murders to Federal Crime
Via the Committee to Protect Journalists:

With near impunity in the murders of journalists a persistent reason for the terror and self-censorship among Mexican news organizations, legislators say the national Senate is on the verge of passing a constitutional amendment that would allow federal authorities to take over cases of crimes against freedom of expression. Passage would mean that the typically less corrupt and more effective federal police and prosecutors would move aside state authorities to tackle cases of murdered journalists or those living under threat.
Since 2006, more than 40 journalists have died or disappeared in Mexico, according to CPJ research. Due to a mixture of negligence and pervasive corruption among law enforcement officials, particularly at the state level, crimes against the Mexican press are almost entirely unsolved. The failure to investigate abuses has encouraged further crimes, forcing journalists to steer clear of sensitive topics such as violence, corruption and narco-trafficking. The result is that citizens have been stripped of their right to vital information.

Image: Poster used for a 2008 Knight Cabot conference on Journalism in Mexico.

Mexico Proposes Elevating Journalist Murders to Federal Crime

Via the Committee to Protect Journalists:

With near impunity in the murders of journalists a persistent reason for the terror and self-censorship among Mexican news organizations, legislators say the national Senate is on the verge of passing a constitutional amendment that would allow federal authorities to take over cases of crimes against freedom of expression. Passage would mean that the typically less corrupt and more effective federal police and prosecutors would move aside state authorities to tackle cases of murdered journalists or those living under threat.

Since 2006, more than 40 journalists have died or disappeared in Mexico, according to CPJ research. Due to a mixture of negligence and pervasive corruption among law enforcement officials, particularly at the state level, crimes against the Mexican press are almost entirely unsolved. The failure to investigate abuses has encouraged further crimes, forcing journalists to steer clear of sensitive topics such as violence, corruption and narco-trafficking. The result is that citizens have been stripped of their right to vital information.

Image: Poster used for a 2008 Knight Cabot conference on Journalism in Mexico.

Maps of the Drug War in Mexico
Homicides and Trafficking Routes. Via sunfoundation.

Maps of the Drug War in Mexico

Homicides and Trafficking Routes. Via sunfoundation.

A nation’s journalists and writers, like its poets and story-tellers, are the eyes, ears, and mouths of the people. When journalists cannot freely speak of what they see and hear of the reality that surrounds them, the people cannot see, hear, or speak it either.

Russell Banks, American Author, to colleagues during a PEN International mission to Mexico that is encouraging law enforcement to better protect journalists.

As the Committee to Protect Journalists notes, 43 journalists have been murdered in Mexico since 2006

Mexico’s Drug War
The Guardian is publishing an important and eye-opening series that explores Mexico’s ongoing drug war. 
The series mixes media with stories presented in a variety of formats. For example:
Text: The US gun smugglers recruited by one of Mexico’s most brutal cartels 
Interactive: Mexico’s war on drugs: stories from the front line
Video: Mexico drug wars: ‘the majority of the weapons used by the cartels are coming from the US’
Image: Still from an interactive timeline indicating that Mexican media organizations estimate 45,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence over the past five years.

Mexico’s Drug War

The Guardian is publishing an important and eye-opening series that explores Mexico’s ongoing drug war

The series mixes media with stories presented in a variety of formats. For example:

Image: Still from an interactive timeline indicating that Mexican media organizations estimate 45,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence over the past five years.

This happened to me for not understanding that I shouldn’t report on the social networks.

A note left with the beheaded body of a Mexican blogger in Nuevo Laredo along the Texas-Mexican border*. As we’ve written before, traditional newsrooms, bloggers, and social media commentators have been targeted by the drug cartels for reporting on their activity.

Via The Houston Chronicle:

The victim, identified on social networking sites only by his nickname - Rascatripas or Belly Scratcher - reportedly helped moderate a site called En Vivo that posted news of shootouts and other activities of the Zetas, the narcotics and extortion gang that all but controls the city.

The beheaded body of another blogger, 39-year-old Elizabeth Macias, who contributed to the blog, was found in the same location in late September.

A young man and a woman were hung from a highway overpass earlier that same month. A sign left with their bodies said they too had been killed for their social media activity…

…With mainstream newspapers and broadcasters terrorized by the criminal gangs, whose violence has killed upward of 50,000 people across Mexico in five years, social media networks have become key information sources in many towns and cities.

A senior editor at El Mañana, Nuevo Laredo’s largest newspaper, was knifed to death after leaving work in 2004. Gunmen attacked the newspaper’s offices in 2006, crippling a journalist. The newspaper since has dramatically scaled back its reporting of the violence, as have other news organizations.

* Correction: We originally wrote that Nuevo Laredo was a neighborhood in Mexico City. Thank you wiredthoughts for pointing out our error.

Gunmen Storm Mexican Newsroom →

On Sunday, unidentified gunmen stormed the newsroom of El Buen Tono, a month-old startup based in Veracruz that reports on politics and organized crime. They destroyed computers and other equipment, and then set the building on fire.

No injuries were reported but the Committee to Protect Journalists writes that attacks such as these are becoming more common

Via the CPJ:

Vanguardia, the oldest and largest newspaper in the city of Saltillo, was the target of a hand grenade attack in May. In February, gunmen attacked the facilities of two media companies in the city of Torreón, destroyed equipment, and killed a TV engineer. Last year, more than a dozen news facilities were attacked with either guns or explosives. These acts of violence are seen as an easy way for criminal gangs to pressure the press to not report on them, especially in areas where drug traffickers battle for territorial control, CPJ research shows.

Mexican Newsroom Manager Found Decapitated →

Via the Guardian:

The woman, identified by local officials as Marisol Macías Castañeda, a newsroom manager for the Primera Hora newspaper, was found in Nuevo Laredo next to a handwritten note claiming she was murdered for posts about the Zetas cartel, which is believed to dominate the area’s drug trade to Laredo, Texas.

Macías Castañeda held an administrative post at Primera Hora, not a reporting job, according to a colleague who wished to remain anonymous. But it was apparently what she posted on the social networking site Nuevo Laredo en Vivo (Nuevo Laredo Live), rather than her role at the newspaper, that prompted her murder.

The site prominently features tip hotlines for the Mexican army, navy and police, and includes a section for reporting the location of drug gang lookouts and drug sales points – possibly the information that angered the cartel.

The message found next to her body on the side of a main road referred to the nickname Macías Castañeda purportedly used on the site, La Nena de Laredo (Laredo Girl). Her head was found placed on a large stone piling nearby.

"Nuevo Laredo en Vivo and social networking sites, I’m The Laredo Girl, and I’m here because of my reports, and yours," the message read. "For those who don’t want to believe, this happened to me because of my actions, for believing in the army and the navy. Thank you for your attention, respectfully, Laredo Girl…ZZZZ."

For background on Mexican killings related to information posted via social networks, see our post from earlier today.