Mexico has faced significant threats and violence from organized crime over the last decade. The human toll and tragedy of this violence is directly impacting journalists as well, leading to self-censorship, under-reporting of organized crime, and the corruption and state complicity that comes with it. Journalists have been killed, injured, and threatened as they seek to investigate and report on what is happening, and dozens of media outlets have been forced to close in the last few years. According to Article 19, eleven journalists were killed in 2016 and six so far in 2017 including Javier Valdéz, an internationally recognized journalist from Sinaloa’s RíoDoce, on May 15th.
In 2012, the United States supported the legislative framework that established Mexico’s National Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists. Through USAID, the United States has continued to support the Protection Mechanism and other programs to benefit journalists and defenders in Mexico. Nevertheless, the recent cases demonstrate that these mechanisms have not yet been effective. The Mexican government has expressed concern about the problem and promised justice, but investigations and prosecutions of those responsible have been very few. In the process, freedom of information, freedom of the press, the rule of law, and democratic governance have been weakened.
The Wilson Center and WOLA convened a discussion with experts and courageous Mexican journalists to hear about their work and the difficulties and risks they and their colleagues face. They were joined by Ana Cristina Ruelas, the Director of Article 19’s office for Mexico and Central America, Azam Ahmed, the New York Times’ Bureau Chief for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, and Jennifer Clement, the President of PEN International, who presented an overview of attacks and aggressions against journalists in Mexico and the Mexican government’s response to this concerning situation.