MEXICO CITY – Members of the media took to the streets in cities across Mexico on Tuesday to protest the killings of a prominent journalist and an employee of a weekly newspaper.
A group of journalists gathered at Mexico City’s iconic Angel of Independence monument to protest the murders on Monday of reporter Javier Valdez and media company employee Jonathan Rodriguez.
The 50-year-old Valdez, known for his coverage of Mexico’s drug war, was gunned down in the northwestern city of Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state, while walking near the offices of Riodoce, a newsweekly he helped found.
A few hours later, Rodriguez, who worked for a newsweekly in the western state of Jalisco, was shot dead in an attack that wounded his mother, the publication’s deputy editor.
Photojournalist Gabriela Esquivel, one of the organizers of the protest in Mexico City, criticized “the impunity” that surrounds the killings of journalists in Mexico, where seven members of the media have been murdered this year.
“It doesn’t matter that they keep killing us and killing us. This can go on and the federal government isn’t interested,” Esquivel told EFE.
Juan Carlos Aguilar, who works for China Hoy magazine and is a member of the Derecho a Informar (Right to Report) press rights group, said “there doesn’t exist an effective protocol (for journalists’ security) nor will it ever exist, it’s just words in the air and everyone ‘on their own,’ as Javier Valdez liked to say.”
Alejandro Fierrez, a first-year communications student, and some friends attended the protest at the request of their professor.
“We’re here for the families and because of the losses, and we don’t want impunity. The government should stand up,” Fierrez said, adding that he was “shocked” at how dangerous it was to be a journalist in Mexico.
Members of the media organized protests in other cities in Mexico.
Two protests were held Tuesday morning in Sinaloa, with one taking place in Culiacan and another in the resort city of Mazatlan.
In Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco state, dozens of journalists gathered outside the prosecutor’s office and put up a make-shift memorial to the journalists who have been murdered or disappeared in Mexico.
A march is planned in Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero, to call for protection of the right to freedom of expression and a swift investigation of the harassment and threats against seven journalists in the southern state over the weekend.
Last Saturday, the seven journalists were briefly detained and threatened by a large group of armed men in Guerrero.
Protests are also planned in Baja California, located in northwestern Mexico, and in the Gulf state of Veracruz, one of the most dangerous areas for journalists in the country.
A candlelight march is scheduled to start at 7:30 pm in Mexico City, where organizers plan to read a statement and have called on participants to dress in black.