MEXICO CITY – Four media unions joined several magazines and journalism foundations in calling Tuesday for “forceful” action to end the “atmosphere of affronts and violence” against Mexico’s journalists and defend freedom of expression and of the press.
“Unless forceful action is taken, the country’s democracy will be put at risk,” the groups said in a statement published in the Mexico City daily La Jornada.
The statement lists the names of the 36 journalists murdered and the eight others reported missing between December 2006 and July 2010.
The National Journalists Front for Freedom of Expression, or FNPLE, whose members include the National Press Editors Union, the Independent Union of La Jornada Workers, the Notimex Workers Union and the union that represents workers at Puebla’s El Sol newspaper, published the statement.
Contralinea and Zocalo magazines, the CIMAC news agency, the Manuel Buendia Foundation and several attorneys also signed the statement.
“The press has faced one of the most critical periods” in Mexico’s history since President Felipe Calderon took office on Dec. 1, 2006, because “violent aggression” against journalists has “multiplied in an alarming fashion.”
Most of the attacks have “gone unpunished” and the cases remain “without deep investigations,” the groups said.
More than 60 journalists have been murdered and 11 others have gone missing since 2000 in Mexico, which press rights groups consider one of the most dangerous countries in the world for reporters.
“Threats, intimidation, kidnappings and attacks on communications media, moreover, have become a common practice, mainly among the security forces and serving politicians,” the groups said.
“Organized crime, especially, has shown no mercy” toward reporters in Michoacan, Guerrero, Chihuahua, Coahuila and Durango, among other states, the groups said.
U.N. special rapporteur Frank La Rue and his Organization of American States counterpart, Catalina Botero, plan to hold a press conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss their findings in Mexico.
A week ago, reporters in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s murder capital, asked La Rue to declare journalism a high-risk occupation.
La Rue met for more than two hours last Tuesday in Ciudad Juarez, located across the border from El Paso, Texas, with about 20 reporters, photographers, editors and cameramen from different media outlets to discuss the situation in the city.
Ciudad Juarez is “the most critical place in the entire country” for journalism, La Rue said.
The U.N. rapporteur said after the meeting that he detected “a great deal of frustration and skepticism” among journalists and that he was “more convinced than ever that this is a critical moment.”
Mexico’s press experienced a “tragic” July, Reporters Without Borders said in a statement earlier this month.
At least two Mexican reporters were murdered, another disappeared and one was forced to flee to the United States last month, the Paris-based press rights group, known as RSF, said.
Four journalists kidnapped on July 26 in Gomez Palacio, in the northern state of Durango, were later released.
Journalists staged protests on Aug. 7 in different cities to draw attention to the violence against reporters in Mexico from both the security forces and criminals.
Nearly 1,000 people, the majority of them members of the press, participated in the march in Mexico City. EFE