MEXICO CITY – More than 100 journalists staged a protest in Mexico City to draw attention to the killings of several journalists in the eastern state of Veracruz, call for justice in the cases and demand an end to the murders of members of the media.
The demonstration took place Saturday at the Angel of Independence monument, a traditional site for public protests.
The protesters placed a wreath with the message “Gobierno mataperiodistas” (Government Journalist Killer) and dozens of candles at the iconic monument.
The recent killings of journalists in Veracruz “is an intolerable insult,” Carmen Aristegui, one of the leading figures in the Mexican media, said during the reading of one of the two manifestos presented at the protest.
Proceso magazine’s correspondent in Veracruz, Regina Martinez, was murdered on April 28, while the dismembered bodies of photojournalists Gabriel Huge and Guillermo Luna, and former photojournalist Esteban Rodriguez were found Thursday in the Gulf state.
Martinez, who covered the war on drugs and had been Proceso’s correspondent in Xalapa, the capital of Veracruz, since 1999, worked for a number of different media outlets during a career that spanned more than 30 years.
Veracruz has been plagued by a turf war between rival drug cartels that has sent the state’s murder rate skyrocketing.
There is “an absence of freedom of expression” in Veracruz and critical thinking “lacks space,” turning journalism into “a high-risk exercise,” the manifesto read by Aristegui said.
Nearly 80 journalists have been murdered in Mexico since the start of this century.
Proceso columnist Alvaro Delgado read another communique addressed to President Felipe Calderon and officials in Veracruz, noting that the recent crimes against journalists were not “an isolated incident.”
“All of these murders have gone unpunished,” Delgado said during the demonstration.
The names of the dozens of members of the media killed in Mexico in recent years were read.
Mexico is considered the world’s second most dangerous country for members of the media.
Nine journalists were murdered in Mexico last year, the National Human Rights Commission, or CNDH, Mexico’s equivalent of an ombudsman’s office, said in a statement released in January.
Journalists have increasingly been targeted in recent years by drug traffickers and other organized crime groups, especially in northern Mexico.
Media members must also contend with long-running abuse at the hands of federal, state and local officials.