New Internationalist

A deadly decade

In Chilpancingo, the capital of Mexico's southern state of Guerrero, Evaristo Pacheco Solis, a 33-year-old reporter from the weekly Vision Information, was shot dead at the end of March by 'unknown individuals'.

The incident was the latest in a long line of attacks on journalists. The Latin American Federation of Journalists (FELAP) reports that 67 journalists in Mexico have been killed and nine have disappeared since 2000.

Earlier this year, in the city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, eight journalists were kidnapped in the space of 14 days. Three of them, including 49-year-old Jorge Valdez, died. The radio reporter was kidnapped on 19 February after leaving a party, and then, on 1 March, released and abandoned by criminals on a road in Matamoros, Tamaulipas. He entered an area hospital with a suspected diabetic coma and later died. It was discovered that he had signs of torture and had been gagged.

FELAP revealed that 'another two were found dead, three others have been hospitalized with serious injuries and nothing is currently known about the other two. None of this information has been verified by family and friends, because they are too scared to denounce the brutal and deadly attacks.'

In its annual report on Mexico, the US's State Department highlighted the increase in killings by security forces, the kidnappings, physical abuse, poor prison conditions, arbitrary arrests, corruption, inefficiency, lack of transparency in the judicial system, confessions extracted by torture, violence and threats and other crimes against journalists, increased people-trafficking, discrimination against indigenous people and women and child labour.

And the European Parliament has asked the Government of Mexico to redouble its efforts to combat the violence and impunity that are prevalent in the country, putting a special emphasis on human rights with regards to the murder of women and journalists. It also recommended that Felipe Calderón's Government work on strengthening the rule of law to resolve 'some of the structural problems that are the cause of human rights violations'.

Last week, UNESCO also warned about the situation. 'In the period 2008-09, Mexico was in third place on the [global] list, with 11 journalists killed,' it reported. UNESCO also said that 'the killing of journalists is just the tip of the iceberg'. 'The professionals of the media face other forms of threats, intimidation, kidnapping and physical attacks'. 

The Inter American Press Association last Tuesday expressed 'dismay' at the attacks on journalists in Mexico and urged the authorities to show 'greater care and concern' over what it called a 'spiral of violence gripping journalism'. 'There is no doubt that we are facing one of the most tragic hours of Latin American journalism,' said IAPA President, Alejandro Aguirre.

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