Posts Tagged ‘Mexico’


Call to action to honor slain journalist Javier Vladez

“The great mistake is to live in Mexico and to be a journalist” Javier Valdez, in his 2016 book Narcoperiodismo

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a working journalist.  

When reporter Javier Valdez was pulled from his car and executed in Culiacán, Sinaloa on May 15, he became the sixth member of the Mexican press to be killed in two months. The growing number is a disturbing reminder that everyone is targeted, no one is safe: print journalists, TV and radio reporters, photographers, editors, owners. In a decade-long wave of violence against journalists, parents have been gunned down in front of their children;  children in front of their parents. Murders take place in the dead of night or in broad daylight; in one of Mexico’s 32 states or in the middle of Mexico City.

The Committee to Protect Journalists estimates that 25 journalists have been killed since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in December 2012. Although their murders took place independent of each other, the targeted shared a commitment to documenting aspects of drug trafficking and political corruption. In response, the Mexican government has been worse than silent: there have been almost no successful convictions of a journalist’s killer. The government’s inaction and failure to protect the press endangers not only reporters, but also freedom of expression and even Mexico’s democracy.

As members of the international press community, we have an opportunity to stand with Mexico’s journalists and to urge the Mexican government to act.

Our voice is our strength: join us, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Periodistas de a Pie in Mexico. On Thursday, June 15, a month after Javier’s murder, we will publish or broadcasting news articles, opinion pieces, editorials, political cartoons, blogs, photographs, tweets, Facebook posts, or any other form of journalism you favor.

The content is up to you – you can address his killing specifically, attacks on Mexico’s press in general, the impact of violence and impunity on freedom of expression, the government’s inaction, its failure to protect its journalists, the response of journalists worldwide. If all you’re able to do is a link to a published article or post that says it all for you, that too is welcome. We only ask that you tag your piece, post or Tweet with the hashtag #ourvoiceisourstrength and/or #nuestravozesnuestrafuerza as way of signaling to the Mexican government and to Mexico’s press that this is a collective effort.

Our voice is our strength. Join us in letting Mexican journalists know they are not alone, and the Mexican government see that the world is watching, and waiting for a solution.

#ourvoiceisourstrength, #nuestravozesnuestrafuerza

Instructions:

  1. Plan to publish or air a piece related to violence against journalists in Mexico on Thursday, June 15 in commemoration of Javier Valdez’s assassination on May 15
  2. Associate the hashtag #ourvoiceisourstrength and/or #nuestravozesnuestrafuerza with your piece so that it will be recognized as part of a collective effort
  3. Pass this message on to your international journalist contacts, colleagues and friends! Do it quickly, so people have time to respond and prepare something for June 15.
  4. If you think of it, let us know that you will publish or air something on June 15 so we have a sense of the community’s response.
  5. Everyone should craft their own approach/pitch to their jefes so that their institutions are on board — if such permission is needed.

#ourvoiceisourstrength, #nuestravozesnuestrafuerza

Sincerely,

  • Kate Doyle, Senior Analyst, National Security Archive
  • Tim Weiner, author and journalist
  • Susan Ferriss, Senior Writer, Center for Public Integrity
  • Ricardo Sandoval-Palos, Managing Editor, 100Reporters

War Against Journalists Continues in Mexico

The latest victim in attacks against journalists in Mexico is Anabel Flores Salazar, a reporter in Veracruz.

Mexican authorities say they are searching for her after reports she was dragged from her home by armed men and hasn’t been seen since.

Salazar was taken Monday morning from her home near the city of Orizaba, where she worked for several newspapers.

Unfortunately, kidnapping and killing journalists is not uncommon in Mexico. Since 2010 15 journalists have been killed in Veracruz alone.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 24 journalists have been killed in Mexico because of their jobs since 2010. A vast majority — 77 percent — of the reporters killed covered the crime beat, just like Salazar.

Threats against journalists come not only from the gangs but also corrupt public officials. The BBC reports there are strained relations between the Veracruz governor and the media. The governor has gone as far as warning journalists to “behave” or bad things might happen to them.

Understandably journalists in the area saw the comment as a veiled threat.

 

Veracruz prosecutors say they will investigate everything about Salazar to see why she was kidnapped.

The office said a few years ago she was seen with a leader of the local branch of the Zetas drug cartel.

And here in lies the problem.

For reporters to do their job, they have to develop sources across the board. If a cartel leader doesn’t like a story, threats are made and carried out against journalists. Likewise, if a local political figure is identified as being in the hip pocket of a cartel, the journalist receives threats from or is intimidated by the local government.

And then, there are a few bad apples in the journalism profession. Some have used their position as reporter or commentator to extort money from people in exchange for their silence on the air or in print. And because of the few unethical journalists, it becomes easier for governments and gangs to frame honest journalists, because the public is already to accept corruption within the media exists, just as it exists in the rest of society.

And to be clear, the situation described above is not unique to Mexico. Journalists throughout the Western Hemisphere face similar threats from gangs and rogue government officials.

2015: Another dangerous year for journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists reports:

Syria, France most deadly countries for the press

Of 69 journalists killed for their work in 2015, 40 percent died at the hands of Islamic militant groups such as Al-Qaeda and Islamic State. More than two-thirds of the total killed were singled out for murder.

Worldwide, 69 journalists were killed in the line of duty—including those murdered in reprisal for their work as well as those killed in combat or crossfire or on other dangerous assignments. The total, which includes journalists killed between January 1 and December 23, 2015, is higher than the 61 journalists killed in 2014. CPJ is investigating the deaths of at least 26 more journalists during the year to determine whether they were work-related.

Unlike in the past three years, the deaths were widely distributed across countries. At least five journalists were killed in each Iraq, Brazil, Bangladesh, South Sudan, and Yemen.

List of journalists killed in 2015.

Here is the CPJ list of deadliest places to be a journalist:

Deadliest Countries in 2015

  1. Syria: 13
  2. France: 9
  3. Brazil: 6
  4. Yemen: 5
  5. South Sudan: 5
  6. Iraq: 5
  7. Bangladesh: 5
  1. Mexico: 4
  2. Somalia: 3
  3. USA: 2
  4. Turkey: 2
  5. Kenya: 1
  6. Ukraine: 1
  7. Pakistan: 1
  1. Colombia: 1
  2. Libya: 1
  3. Poland: 1
  4. Ghana: 1
  5. India: 1
  6. Guatemala: 1

Threats to Mexican Media Continue Unabated

Washington Post reporter Dana Priest has an excellent piece on the threats Mexican journalists face everyday: Censor or die: The death of Mexican news in the age of drug cartels

For anyone who has paid attention to what is going on in Mexico, this is not news, but confirmation that the war against the cartels is not going so well in Mexico.

The Mexican media was just getting out from under the thumb of the oddly named Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)  that ran Mexico for most of its 100+ years. A breakdown in the control PRI had meant journalists could start actually being journalists instead of stenographers for the government.

Then the cartels started gaining strength — with the help of corrupt national and local officials.

Suddenly the threats to free and independent journalism was no longer the loss of a job, but death.

As Priest notes:

Submitting to cartel demands is the only way to survive, said Hildebrando “Brando” Deandar Ayala, 39, editor in chief of El Mañana, one of the oldest and largest newspapers in the region with a print circulation of 30,000. “You do it or you die, and nobody wants to die,” he said. “Auto censura — self-censorship — that’s our shield.”

Just some items from the past 10 years:

In Mexico, as in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the issue is not government censorship but death threats from criminal cartels. The inability of the governments to address the issue speaks volumes about the corruption and weak legal systems in these countries.

To be clear though, it does not mean the governments have a policy of media repression. Too many observers of Latin America see any attacks on journalists — or civic society activists — as being ordered by the local or national government. Unfortunately the threats are essentially from the “private sector” — the cartels. The law enforcement systems in these countries are so weak that the threats against journalists — and civic society activists — either are not investigated or such a weak case is built against the murderers that they go free.

This impunity cartels enjoy can only be stopped if the governments are provided enough support and help to fight back. That is why cutting support to programs that seek to build stronger legal systems is not the way to go.

This item first appeared in Journalism, Journalists and The World.

War against Mexican journalism continues

From IFEX:

On 25 November, Maite Azuela, a columnist for El Universal, received a death threat in mail delivered to her home in Mexico City’s Federal District.

Azuela arrived home at about 5 p.m. and found a yellow envelope addressed to her. The envelope had no return address, but had a stamp dated 9 November and stamp from a post office in Obrero Mundial street from 11 November. Inside the envelope she found a copy of her El Universal staff profile picture with insults and death threats written on it.

Read full story: Mexican newspaper columnist receives graphic death threat in the mail

Don’t forget the tilde: New Mexican president is Enrique Peña Nieto

By Robert Buckman

Because Mexico’s new president-elect, who will be sworn in on Dec. 1, is destined to be in our news for the next 6½ years, we should at least spell his name correctly. It’s Enrique Peña Nieto, not Enrique Pena Nieto.

I’ve conducted a two-day check of major news websites, with interestingly mixed results.  The AP, Reuters, USA Today and presumably other Gannett papers, ABC, CBS, NBC/MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, the Houston Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Times and The Huffington Post are all doing it wrong.

But The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, CNN, Time, Newsweek/The Daily Beast and The Economist are doing it right.

Incredibly, The Miami Herald, which publishes a Spanish-language edition, El Nuevo Herald, and is supposed to know better, is doing it both ways! Its published reports from the AP have it wrong, while those from the McClatchy News Service spell it correctly. In one story alone, it was correct in the subhead and the lede, but wrong in the cutline and the teasers.

An interesting finding of this unscientific content analysis is that the same AP stories in which it is spelled without the tilde are published in The Washington Post and The Dallas Morning News with the tilde, which means the desk people can get it right if they choose to do so. So can the AP and Reuters people, for that matter, because each has a Spanish-language service in which they have to spell it correctly, so obviously they know how.

The Houston Chronicle’s website also has Spanish translations that spell it correctly.

So what’s the big deal over that tilde, ethnocentrists may snort. The big deal is that without it, the name “Pena” is as inaccurately spelled as Obana. In both cases, the misspelling also change the pronunciation. And we’re supposed to spell and pronounce names correctly in journalism, aren’t we?

About 15 years ago, I instructed the desks at the Mac-using Advocate in Baton Rouge and Daily Advertiser in Lafayette how to write El Niño instead of El Nino. They’ve been doing it right ever since. So it can be done. But their websites both have “Pena Nieto” because they defaulted to the AP for world news.

It’s really easy to make the “ñ” on a Mac. Hold down the option key, hit the N key, let go of both, hit the N again and voila, ñ.

Different PCs seem to have different systems. The most common one for the “ñ” is alt+164. Others have a directory of foreign characters, including Greek letters for mathematical formulas and I guess fraternity newsletters, stashed somewhere in the file folder. But it’s doable if you just find it.

The difference between using the tilde or omitting it is a difference not only in pronunciation, but often in meaning.

“Peña” (pronounced PANE-ya, for you broadcast folks) is a common Hispanic surname, i.e., Tony Peña Jr. of the Boston Red Sox. The common noun “pena” (PAY-na) means emotional pain, as in Siento pena por ti (roughly, I feel your pain) or pity, as in, Que pena (what a pity).

I heard NBC’s Kate Snow and all the NPR reporters pronounce Peña Nieto correctly, even as their websites spell it wrong.

Deleting the tilde also can have embarrassing consequences. For example, the word año means year, but the word ano means anus, so if you write “Feliz Ano Nuevo” to impress Hispanic friends next Jan. 1, you are literally wishing them a happy new asshole.

And to head something else off at the pass, don’t think you can get around the tilde problem simply by referring to Peña Nieto on second reference as “Nieto.” Wrong! Nieto is the matronymic, or his mother’s maiden name; Peña is his father’s surname. In Hispanic culture, people often go by both names, as a way to honor Mamá, as well as to distinguish between people with very common names, such as Juan García, who may choose to be identified as Juan García Echinique. Not as many of those around.

It’s purely a personal choice. The incumbent Mexican president chose to go by Felipe Calderón, and his predecessor by Vicente Fox. But their formal names are Vicente Fox Quesada and Felipe Calderón Hinojosa.

I won’t even get into accent marks now, which Time and The Economist do correctly, because the new president doesn’t have one. But the candidate who ran second, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has two. Just as well he lost!

I may be tilde-ing at windmills, but the above-listed media that are doing it correctly are proof that it can and should be done right. Unfortunately, I’ll bet this plea falls on a lot of blind eyes and stubborn minds.

Que pena.

Robert Buckman, Ph.D., is a journalism professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the author of a reference book on Latin America.

 

Mexican journalism: A most dangerous job

The New York Times offers a very moving video report on covering the drug war in northern Mexico and how dangerous it is for journalists.

The Most Dangerous Beat: Juárez, Mexico

A while back the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a report — Silence or Death in Mexico — detailing the situation that has mad Mexico a more dangerous place for journalists than Iraq.

The Inter American Press Association continues to run the Impunity Project in the hopes that eventually enough pressure will be brought on governments to actually prosecute the killers of working journalists.

CPJ issues awards

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

Last week the Committee to Protect Journalists held its annual awards dinner in New York City.

Honored for their work in defending free press were Dawit Kebede of Ethiopia, Nadira Isayeva of Russia, Laureano Márquez of Venezuela and Mohammad Davari of Iran.

The organization also released its annual report.

While the CPJ looks at the whole world, its 201o report selected Somalia, Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, Pakistan, Mexico and Azerbaijan for special attention because of the threats to journalism and journalists in those countries.

Colbert looks at No. Mex situation for journalists

Thank you Stephen Colbert:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Gang Busters – John Burnett
www.colbertnation.com
http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:item:comedycentral.com:361085
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election March to Keep Fear Alive

Venezuelan court bans photos; Government moves on Globovision

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

Last week a Venezuelan court banned print media from publishing violent images. The court ordered all Venezuelan media to stop publishing “images, reports and publicity of any type that contain blood, guns, terrifying messages or physical attacks, images that incorporate warfare content and messages about killings and deaths that could upset the psychological well-being of children and adolescents.” Officially the move is to protect children from harmful images. What really appears behind the move, however, is censoring items that are critical of the Chavez government.

The Committee to Protect Journalists released a statement last week condemning the action.(Venezuelan censorship over morgue photos is selective)

The New York Times used the court order to look at the larger picture in Venezuela. In a Sunday story it pointing out that it is safer living in Baghdad or Mexico than in Venezuela.

In Iraq, a country with about the same population as Venezuela, there were 4,644 civilian deaths from violence in 2009, according to Iraq Body Count; in Venezuela that year, the number of murders climbed above 16,000.

Even Mexico’s infamous drug war has claimed fewer lives.

Needless to say Chavez was not happy that a Venezuelan newspaper — actually two newspapers — ran a graphic picture that showed the failings of his government. The government saw the use of a picture of bodies piled up at a morgue as part of a campaign against his government. The newspaper saw it as part of their job to inform the public.

The director of El Nacional, Miguel Henrique Otero made no bones about the purpose of the picture. He told CNN, “The editorial aim of the photo was to shock people so that in some way they react to the situation, since the government does nothing.”

No doubt the picture was shocking. The SPJ Code of Ethics calls for journalists to “Do No Harm.” part of the Code states journalists should “Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.”

The picture — as described — was no doubt hurtful to the families of the deceased and it most likely pandered to lurid curiosity. But that is no excuse for a government to engage in censorship.

Reporters Without Borders called the order “too broad and imprecise.”

Reuters reported on the ban — Venezuela bans papers from printing violent photos — on the 18th.

Venezuelan publishers denounced the court order as part of a concentrated attack on independent media outlets in the country.

In an editorial, El Nacional said:

<Google Translation>”The measure of censure issued by the regime of President Chávez against the independent press in Venezuela has ratified its totalitarian vocation and its decision to prevent criticism of the country’s social reality in all its dimensions and gravity, goes beyond the knowledge of the people.”

<Original Spanish text>”La medida de censura dictada por el régimen del presidente Chávez contra la prensa independiente de Venezuela ha ratificado su vocación totalitaria y su decisión de impedir que la crítica realidad social del país, en toda su dimensión y gravedad, trascienda al conocimiento del pueblo.”

Chavez has never been friendly to independent media. He has followed a totalitarian line on media policy that mirrors the policies of Fidel Castro and Adolf Hitler.

And he moves on many fronts.

Besides getting his rubber-stamp courts to hand down edicts, he is also using government funds to buy control of media outlets critical of his government.

According to a report from Reporters Without Borders over the weekend, the Venezuelan government is buying 48.5 percent of the ownership of Globovision and is heading for majority ownership of its stock.

President Hugo Chávez announced on 20 July that his government is about to acquire a majority stake in Globovisión, a privately-owned TV station that is very critical of his administration. By acquiring the shares of some of the station’s directors, the government says it will be able to control 48.5 per cent of its capital.

Federal Bank chairman Nelson Mezerhane stepped in last month at the government’s request and bought 20 per cent of Globovisión’s shares, plus another 5.8 per cent acquired through another company, Chávez revealed during a televised ceremony on 20 July. He also announced that the 20 per cent of shares owned by Luis Teófilo Núñez, one of the station’s founders, who died in 2007, would “pass to the state.” Chávez then did the sum: “25.8 per cent plus 20 per cent makes 48.5 per cent, amigo.” This was not an expropriation, he insisted. The government just wanted to “participate in this business.”

And I love that last line. The government just wants to “participate in this business.”

I would say that the years-long efforts by the Chavez government to close, intimidate and otherwise control media outlets in the country should mean that they have already been “participating” in the news business.

Just to be clear: Venezuela is the ONLY country in South America that is listed as NOT FREE by the Freedom House Press Freedom Report. And its only partner in the entire Western Hemisphere with this “honor” is Cuba, which has jailed more journalists than any other country in the world.

And if anyone was wondering what the impact of censorship has, Venezuela is only marginally less corrupt than Haiti, which means Venezuela is the second most corrupt country in the Western Hemisphere. In general, free media are a good way to keep track of corrupt officials. (Why do you think so many governments want to control the media?)

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