Mexico is a country where freedom of the press doesn’t exist. The government doesn’t apply censorship or persecute the media. However, it is incapable of protecting journalists, and as a result the options for these media professionals seem to be either self-censorship or death.
Mexico’s “not free” status, whether from the UN Special Rapporteurs, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights or Freedom House, reflects the resounding failure of Felipe Calderón’s administration to keep its residents safe.
Specifically, there is a climate of rampant impunity that allows organized crime to intimidate and murder journalists without fear of arrest or punishment. In its six years of existence, the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression has not convicted anyone, despite the fact several Mexican journalists were murdered during that time.
It is outrageous to think that the murders of journalists Regina Martínez, Gabriel Huge and Guillermo Luna, which happened this past week, won’t be solved. This type of immunity will probably lead to more journalists being murdered.
It is also very worrisome that in Huge’s case, he had previously reported threats from police officials and not from drug traffickers. His fears should not come as a surprise, since abuse from police and local officials, whether infiltrated by drug traffickers or on their own, is another of the points mentioned as something endangering journalists.
Records show that more than 100 journalists have been murdered or disappeared since 2000. There is no similar list of suspects or detainees. Investigations are often manipulated or incomplete, and according to international observers, even the victims must supply evidence when they’re attacked.
Calderón’s government likes to discuss economic advances and point out that Brazil is more dangerous than Mexico. But the strength of a chain is measured by its weakest link, and in the case of freedom of expression, Mexico is all the way down at number 143 out of 197 countries, according to Freedom House. This is the reality of Mexico, its journalism and its society.
Presidential candidates did condemn the latest murders of journalists. This is all well and good, but now is too late for trivial laments. Without concrete, practical commitments to reform the judicial system and achieve credible investigations, the language still sounds like impunity.