06 April 2007

Another journalist killed in Mexico

A friend and fellow reporter once attended a seminar in Nuevo Laredo on the growing threats against journalists covering areas plagued with narcotics trafficking violence. A short time later, the newspaper that hosted the event was shot up.

Mexico is now the most dangerous places in the hemisphere to be a journalist with 10 reporters meeting untimely ends in 2006. Sadly, Mexico passed Colombia for that dubious distinction. Somewhat ironically, the Mexican press now regularly scrutinizes the government and hard-hitting stories regularly blanket the front pages. (Compare that to 15 years ago when many journalists had patrons, or even further back when a newsprint monopoly wouldn't sell paper to those whose views went against the PRI government.) But anyone writing on the escalating war on drugs, or, more specifically, delving into narcotics gangs, is basically signing a death wish. Unfortunate, but it's true. And no surprise here, no journalist I know in Mexico - and I include myself - wants to investigate anything pertaining to drug activity.

Now, Televisa's Acapulco correspondent, Amado Ramirez, was assassinated earlier today after completing a radio program. An editor in Guadalajara once suggested to me in an interview that many of the fallen reporters worked for smaller, less-prestigious outfits in provincial cities - which made them easier targets. Not this time around. In Mexico, Televisa is as big as it gets. While maligned in the past - and still disliked by many, especially PRD supporters - the station isn't quite the nefarious government-propaganda beast it was during the PRI years. It's widely watched, which should keep this case in the spotlight for some time to come.

Perhaps worst in all of this is the lack of justice. Few - if any - crimes against journalists are solved. Former president Vicente Fox promised action, but little was accomplished. The impunity in this country is astonishing - and must end.

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