Dolia Estévez, AL DÍA: News and Analysis from the Mexico Institute,* 10/16/2010
The case of Jorge Luís Aguirre, editor of the website LaPolaka.com, sets an important precedent: for the first time ever, the United States has granted political asylum to a Mexican reporter. Aguirre fled Ciudad Juárez in 2008 after receiving death threats for exposing alleged corruption amongst Chihuahua state officials. He was given political asylum in September by an immigration judge in El Paso, Texas, his new home. In doing so, the U.S. government began to acknowledge that Mexico is a dangerous place for journalists to work. Despite the increasing levels of violence in Mexico, the U.S. in the past had been reluctant to grant asylum to Mexican journalists and other citizens to avoid reinforcing the perception that the security situation is out of control. U.S. government sources insist that Aguirre’s case does not represent a “shift” in U.S. asylum policy toward Mexico.
According to a new special report by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Silence or Death in Mexico’s Press, to be presented at the Wilson Center on November 8th, drug-fueled crime, violence, and corruption have devastated the country’s press corps and destroyed citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and access to information. Violent crimes against journalists in Mexico, where nine have been killed in 2010 alone, prompted a joint official fact finding visit to Mexico in August by the OAS and UN Special Rapporteurs for Freedom of Expression. In a preliminary report on the trip, they expressed concern about the “murder of journalists and other very serious acts of violence against those who disseminate information, the widespread impunity in these cases and self-censorship.”
More than 30 journalists have been killed or have disappeared since President Felipe Calderón launched his war on drugs in December 2006. A new research paper published by the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego, found that not one of the murders or forced disappearances of journalists since 2000 have been really solved. Impunity is allowed to prevail in the vast majority of cases.
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