posts about or somewhat related to ‘Mexico’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.