Mexico arrests alleged killer of drug war journalist, says minister

04/24/2018 Reuters

Sinaloa
Sinaloa

Mexico’s interior minister on Monday said that authorities had arrested the alleged murderer of a renowned journalist in northern Mexico whose death had become emblematic of a spike in violence across the country.

Javier Valdez was assassinated last year in the state of Sinaloa, which has been the scene of violent battles between gangs following the arrest and subsequent extradition early last year to the United States of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

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La Impunidad Sigue: Violence against Journalists in Mexico

5/17/2017 The Expert Take, Mexico Institute

expert I (2)By Eric L. Olson and Gina Hinojosa

In yet another disturbing attack against freedom of expression in Mexico, one of the country’s most celebrated reporters, Javier Valdez Cárdenas, was shot dead this week in his hometown of Culiacán, Sinaloa. The fifth journalist to be murdered in Mexico this year, Valdez was pulled from his car and shot multiple times by an unidentified assailant around noon on May 15, according to national newspaper La Jornada, leaving the country to grieve the loss, again, of courageous journalist and rights defenders.

A talented and undeniably passionate reporter, Valdez won numerous international awards for his work. In 2011, the publication he co-founded, RioDoce, earned the prestigious Maria Moors Cabot Prize from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. In the same year, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) awarded Valdez the 2011 International Press Freedom Award for his fearless coverage of drug trafficking, organized crime, and corruption. “In a country where widespread self-censorship is the consequence of violence by drug syndicates and criminal gangs, Valdez still covers sensitive issues,” wrote CPJ in its announcement of the award.

The words Valdez delivered upon receiving the CPJ award in New York are heart-wrenching. They underscore the horrors suffered by Mexicans living in areas ravaged by the country’s ongoing struggle against organized crime and the persistent challenges faced by journalists brave enough to report from the front lines of this struggle:

“Where I work, Culiacán, in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico, it is dangerous to be alive, and to do journalism is to walk on an invisible line drawn by the bad guys–who are in drug trafficking and in the government–in a field strewn with explosives. This is what most of the country is living through. One must protect oneself from everything and everyone, and there do not seem to be options or salvation, and often there is no one to turn to.”

While well aware of the risks, Valdez dedicated his life to addressing these pressing issues. In 2003, he co-founded the Sinaloa-based crime and corruption-focused publication RioDoce. At the time of the publication’s founding, the state government was believed to control most of Sinaloa’s media, and Valdez saw the need to provide more honest coverage of organized crime’s toll on Mexican society and governance.

In 2011, Valdez spoke at the Wilson Center about his work at a Mexico Institute event in the midst of Mexico’s rising homicide rates, discussing the risks faced by journalists reporting on organized crime. Widely considered the height of Mexico’s drug war, 2011 was the country’s most violent year on record, with nearly 23,000 homicides documented nationwide by the Mexican National Security System (SNSP). When asked by the Mexico Institute’s Eric L. Olson about why he continued reporting on such dangerous topics in such a hostile context, Valdez said, “The other option is to stay quiet and to turn a blind eye…I believe everyone must assume the responsibility given to them.”

The broader picture

Through his activism and dedicated reporting, Valdez called attention to Mexico’s incessant struggle to put an end to violence against journalists. Press freedom watchdog Reporters without Borders (RSF) consistently ranks Mexico the most dangerous country in the Western Hemisphere for the media, and in its 2017 World Press Freedom Index, RSF declared Mexico the third deadliest country in the world for the press, behind only Syria and Afghanistan. According to international human rights organization Article 19, 105 journalists have been murdered in Mexico since 2000, and in 2016 alone, the organization documented 426 total acts of aggression against the press, including 11 homicides. The most common types of attacks recorded by Article 19 last year included physical assault, intimidation, and threats.

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Mexico mayors demand more security after weekend murders

07/25/2016 BBC News

san juan chamulaMayors in Mexico have demanded they be given extra protection after two of their number were killed in separate incidents on Saturday.

The National Association of Mayors asked the federal government to offer added security to mayors “at risk”.

On Saturday, the mayor of the town of Pungabarato in southern Guerrero state was shot dead only hours after a mayor in southern Chiapas had been killed.

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Mexico Violence Linked to Youth Unemployment: Report

1/25/2016 InSight Crime

InSightLogo_main_24bitA new World Bank report states there is a correlation between homicide rates and the number of unemployed male youths during the apex of Mexico‘s drug war, a telling reminder that improving public security requires more than just criminal justice reform.

The recently released report (pdf) examines the risks facing Latin America’s “ninis,” a term used to describe youth who are neither in school nor active in the work force. Using data from Mexico‘s national employment surveys, the study concludes that there is no correlation between the amount of ninis and homicide rates from 1995-2013.

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Interview to Emiliano Lucero, medical coordinator in Mexico: “Violence is ever present throughout their journey, that may last up to two months”

Guns by Flickr user barjackMedecins Sans Frontieres, 5/12/14

Emiliano Lucero is Argentinian and has just returned from Mexico after working there for a year as a medical coordinator. In this interview, he talks about the challenges the organisation faces in the country and the populations we are assisting there: transmigrants travelling from Central America to the US; people affected by Chagas from Oaxaca State and those affected by urban violence in a neighbourhood of Acapulco.

Why is MSF working in a country such as Mexico?

Regardless of the resources Mexico has as a country, part of the population has to directly endure situations of extreme violence and finds it difficult to access the health system.

Criminal organisations operating in large parts of the country use methods and strategies that have serious medical and humanitarian consequences for the population. MSF seeks to address these medical and humanitarian consequences as well as to bring about changes and to further engage institutions bearing in mind that Mexico has a health system that theoretically has the capacity to respond to these needs.

On the one hand, there are direct consequences of violence such as killings, injured people, sexual violence, forced displacement, kidnappings, disappearances, trauma, torture and psychological consequences. And on the other hand, access to health services is impaired and emergency services overwhelmed, promotion and prevention programmes have been suspended and/or health facilities are no longer operational due to a lack of trained staff that often have to reduce their working hours, are exposed to being robbed or are threatened in the areas affected by violence.

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Mexico: Policy on “Auto-defensas” Makes Things Worse

youth with handgunCenter for Latin American and Latino Studies American University 02/14/2014

In a few short months, Michoacán’s “self-defense” groups have gone from being the Mexican government’s drunk uncle to being its strategic partner – underscoring what is wrong with the current government’s counterdrug strategy.  The vigilante groups are a multi-headed beast, born from sentiments that range from despair and frustration to opportunity.  Desperate small farmers and shopkeepers created some of the units because they’d been victimized by the “Knights Templar,” a splinter group with deep roots in the drug trade that has literally raped and pillaged their villages.

Frustrated agricultural and mining interests have funded their own “self-defense” groups.  And opportunistic rival criminal groups also seek to kill the Knights to take new, or reclaim old, territory.   Mexico’s federal and local governments are to blame for this chaos.

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US Volunteers Help Build Orphanage in Mexico

Fox News Latino/EFE, 7/27/2012

Groups of Americans are challenging their government’s warnings about the violence in Mexico and are crossing over into the municipality of Guadalupe Distrito Bravos to cooperate in the construction of an orphanage.

Groups of up to 30 people from all over the country are crossing the border into Mexico several times a year to help with building the future Casa de las Gemas, which will house more than 400 Mexican children in the town roughly 5 kilometers (3.5 miles) south of the border.

Op-ed: How Mexico Can Rescue Its Brand

Vianovo, James Taylor and Michael Shannon, 5/20/12

Mexico is in need of a major brand turnaround. In the U.S. and around the globe its image has been battered. Since 2005, Americans’ views of Mexico have declined steadily, reaching their lowest point since 1993 last year, according to Gallup polling. While neighboring Canada places first in terms of overall favorability, Mexico now ranks closest to Russia and Egypt.

This brand erosion is undoubtedly a function of negative media coverage – out of a total of 200 countries, Mexico ranks 192nd in a recently published media perception index. That ranking puts Mexico in the company of war torn countries like Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Syria.

For anyone who follows Mexico, this should not come as a surprise. It seems as though the U.S. media rarely has anything positive to say about Mexico. A recent Woodrow Wilson Center Mexico Institute study showed that coverage of Mexico has become increasingly negative over the past two decades.

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Mexican Crime Reporters Risk Becoming The Story

NPR, 5/9/12

Mexico is reeling from another round of brutal murders of journalists. Four journalists and photographers who covered the police beat have been killed in eastern Mexico’s crime-ridden state of Veracruz.

There’s a new call for the federal government to take measures to protect journalists in a country where more and more reporters censor themselves out of fear. The ceremony to remember the most recent killings took place last weekend in Mexico City on the steps of the Monument of Independence between statues depicting peace and law. As the names of murdered journalists were called, the emotional crowd responded: “He shouldn’t have died.”

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, more than 45 journalists have been killed or disappeared in Mexico since 2006. Some press advocacy organizations put the number much higher. They are among the many victims in an organized crime free-for-all that has killed more than 50,000 Mexicans in that time period.

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Culpan a Padrés por muerte de activista

Reforma, 11/28/11

El poeta Javier Sicilia responsabilizó al Gobernador de Sonora, Guillermo Padrés, del asesinato del activista Nepomuceno Moreno Muñoz.

“Yo responsabilizo al Gobernador de la muerte de este hombre que ha sido un gran hombre, es un ejemplo para la nación y los responsabilizo por su familia, la familia está aterrada y tiene temor, y con justa razón”, dijo Sicilia en entrevista televisiva.

El poeta afirmó que el asesinado había recibido amenazas y que ya había solicitado medidas de protección. “Se habían pedido medidas de protección”, dijo. “Nepomuceno había recibido amenazas desde entonces, el mismo pidió protección de estos casos”.

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