Mexico is a dangerous country for journalists. The state of Veracruz, led by Governor Javier Duarte, is the best example of reporters lacking protection and armed groups, who intimidate and murder those journalists, going unpunished.
During Duarte’s three-and-a-half years in office in Veracruz, 10 journalists have been murdered, four disappeared and there have been 132 attacks against state media outlets, according to international organization Article 19.
In these cases, the state government has deliberately downplayed the significance of these murders, saying the motives were completely unrelated to the work of the journalists. For example, the strangling of Regina Martínez, a reporter for Proceso, in her home, was because of a burglary, according to state authorities. Likewise, the recent murder of reporter Gregorio Jiménez, who wrote for Notisur and El Liberal, supposedly resulted from a personal argument between the journalist and a female bar owner, and was related to their children.
The cynicism and disinformation of the Duarte government goes so far as to reject the idea that Jiménez was murdered because of his work. This even though the journalist’s body was found next to the remains of union leader Ruiz Guillén, whose disappearance Jiménez was investigating.
The PRI party governor does not want people to be informed about what is happening in Veracruz, and even less to have it be known how journalists are being killed. This attitude of not guaranteeing protection for reporters and not wanting to honestly investigate their murders makes him an accomplice in these homicides. Duarte should resign from the government. The residents of Veracruz deserve to be informed instead of being victims of disinformation and having journalists who are subjected to intimidation.
If Duarte remains at the helm in Veracruz, this will also hurt the image of Mexican democracy that President Peña Nieto would like to portray. The lack of protection for the press, the impunity with which journalists are being murdered and the lack of seriousness in investigating these crimes are an attempt against freedom of expression in Mexico.
We urge President Obama to express his concern about this problem to his Mexican counterpart during their next meeting. The function of a free press is to inform and watch over the work of the authorities, without fear of being murdered with impunity like is happening in Duarte’s Veracruz.