Journalists in Mexico are risking their lives every day
Nine journalists and two media workers were killed in 2011 in Mexico. Murders which are not solved yet. Mexican journalists have no rights, no protection from the state. Elia Baltazar, a journalist and a press freedom fighter in Mexico, spoke about journalism in her country, and what the 149th place on the World Press Freedom Index means in real life.
Elia Baltazar works in Mexico-city, which is quite safe for journalists. But she told that small towns are very dangerous to work in. The problem of the small towns is that people there are quite poor. And there is also a lot of drug trafficking. That’s why the law is not respected there. Criminal groups are the real power.
If journalists write about criminal cases, drugs or corruption, they can get killed. For example, Regina Martínez, who often wrote about corruption and drug cartels in Veracruz, was murdered on April 29. She was killed two weeks after publishing an article about corruption in the police force and relations between police and drug criminals. She was killed in her own apartment, some days before she got threats, but she didn’t pay much attention to it.
There are many other examples. In the past year, at least three journalists have been found dead in Veracruz on the east of Mexico, including Martínez.
In July 2011, a reporter on police matters for the newspaper Notiver, Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz, was found with her throat cut.
A month earlier, Miguel Velasco, a columnist and deputy editor, was killed. He was shot together with his wife and one of his children.
According to the National Human Rights Committee, around 74 journalists were killed in Mexico during the last 10 years, but none of the killers has been found yet. According to Elia’s information, nobody is in jail. ‘It’s very hard to determine who is an enemy: the drug mafia, authorities, gangs, or are they all the same enemy? So you never know whom you should fight against.’
Journalists have no support from the government, neither from employers (journalists don’t have any agreements with employers or documents which would protect their rights or provide them with social support).
To the question, why people become journalists in Mexico, Elia answered, that someone should report about the problems. “We must try to change the situation. If we don’t, who does?” Journalism is one of the most dangerous professions in Mexico.
By Alya MARYINA