Yaqui for Borderland Beat from: ReporteIndigo
“Los Viagras” ordered us not to cover a beheading story…putting us between a rock and a hard place”: a Mexican Journalist claims.
The Undersecretary of Human Rights, Population and Migration, Alejandro Encinas, recognizes that the climate of aggression against the guild prevails. Although the Protection Mechanism advances in its redesign, it has pending compliance.
Away from their families and convinced that their profession is a risk, journalists in Mexico are displaced by violence and lack of protection.
“José Méndez” , whose name was changed for protection reasons, has been dedicated to this profession for six years and had to leave Quintana Roo to protect himself in Mexico City.
“I covered the red note in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo. But in recent years it was always covering narcomantas and being under the orders of criminal groups since on the one hand I received the order to cover a certain message or be executed, as they call it and, on the other hand, there was the rival that demanded that you trash that note and report nothing”. – Juan Méndez
In an interview with Reporte Indigo, Méndez explained that he began to receive death threats by networks and by telephone, not only towards his person, but ones which also threatened harm to his family.
“They wrote to me on social networks, they even called me on the phone to warn me that they would find me, that I would already download it. At first I didn’t take it so seriously but I remember feeling scared but until they said they were going to kill my daughter, that they were going to cut her up; it was then that I asked for help from the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists and they sent me to Mexico City earlier this year, ” he said.
José said that being away from his family has not been easy, much less assimilate since he can no longer go out and about freely.
“What worries me most is the situation of my parents. About a month ago they were threatened, they were stopped by gunmen who were on motorcycles. They pointed at my dad with the gun, they asked about my whereabouts. I asked the Mechanism for help but I didn’t get it, they say that those facts are not enough, that there is no basis for my parents to have protection, ” he claimed.
José Méndez is one of the 1,039 beneficiaries of this program, which has had significant growth, said the Undersecretary of Human Rights, Population and Migration, Alejandro Encinas on October 14.
“Seven years ago, the mechanism began with six beneficiaries, now over a thousand, of which 691 are human rights defenders and 348 journalists,” he said during the morning conference.
Another beneficiary is Manuel Torres , whose name was also changed, and said that being a reporter these days is being prepared to go to the war field and to face censorship.
“In Zihuatanejo, Guerrero it is difficult to talk about violence. There the newspapers do not publish anything that has to do with confrontations, it is a silenced area and as a reporter you have to learn to survive.” – Manuel Torres
The journalist has worked for the last 14 years covering the police sources and ensures us that drug trafficking has an influence on newsrooms.
“There are two cartels that dispute the square, ie plaza, one of them is “Los Viagras”, who asked us not to take notes and photos of people detained with weapons and drugs because it was their people. There is also the CJNG, Jalisco New Generation Cartel, that sometimes asked us to get that type of information out because it belonged to their enemies, ” he said.
Death threats against reporters and attacks on copywriting are part of the risks they face in Guerrero.
“Once I was working on the finding of a beheaded person in the La Noria neighborhood, my boss told me that first I had to ask if I could go or not. “Los Viagras” ask us not to go check it out and the Cartel does; both tell us that if we don’t obey, we will pay the consequences, which can be kill the reporter and and/or shoot up the offices; there the narco groups put us between a rock and a hard place, ” he said.
Manuel requested protection of the Mechanism, which supported him with transfer, housing and food to settle in Mexico City.
“I have lived in Mexico City since February 25, but before I had already suffered from insomnia, I have gained more weight, I feel that I have grown older and everything has also worsened because I am far from my family. I helped my parents financially, they are both old, they are over 60 years old, I still have a 9 year old niece, I helped her with her studies and school expenses. I get depressed enough to think about how they are, it saddens me not to be there, not being aware of them and taking care of my family, ” he said.
According to both journalists , the protection of the mechanism was more necessary after the murders of his companions Francisco Romero Díaz, on May 16, and Edgar Alberto Nava, on August 2, in Quintana Roo and Guerrero, respectively.
Pending the Redesign of Protection for Journalists:
In the framework of the delivery of security advances of the Ministry of the Interior (Segob), Alejandro Encinas , undersecretary of Human Rights, acknowledged that violence still prevails.
For Encinas, the program must improve prevention to identify risk levels, as well as improve protocols to ensure the safety of people subject to State protection or to work without the need to be part of the Mechanism.
On the urgent “redesign” that had been announced since March this year, the diagnosis started at the beginning of the current administration has already already concluded.
Therefore, escort services were partly withdrawn for protection by the State through the Federal Police.
Although the capital protection mechanism has been established in Mexico City, cooperation between local and federal bodies, more international support and directly involving media owners in joint responsibility is still pending.
Article 19 Numbers:
With 249 attacks and 10 journalists killed, 2019 is heading to be considered the deadliest year for the press in Mexico, according to data from the journalistic association Article 19.
Quintana Roo is the entity that heads the number of attacks against the press, which is worrisome, since it went from 12 to 26 from one year to another, in addition to the fact that 2 journalists have been killed in that state, the organization warns.
The other most violent states to practice this profession are Mexico City and Guerrero, with 22 registered aggressions each; and Oaxaca and Veracruz with 19 each.
Of the 249 attacks, 67 were threats, 61 intimidation and harassment, 25 physical attacks, 23 blockages, alteration or removal of information and 16 illegitimate use of public power.
In addition, 45 of the threats are aggravating to be of death ; while 4 of the 25 attacks were assassination attempts.
“In a country where impunity in crimes against freedom of expression is over 99.9 %, being a victim of death threats generates an effect of self-censorship, thus weakening the rights not only of those who receive the threats, but the right public to receive information, ” says Article 19.
The majority of the attacks were carried out by public officials, with 105, of which 59 were of the municipal order, 30 of the state and 16 of the federal.
Other perpetrators are organized crime groups, with 27 aggressors by individuals, with 47 by political parties with 6; and in 64 of the cases there are not enough elements to determine who carried out the violence.
The male journalists were victims of 151 attacks, mostly death threats, with 38.
The women journalists recorded during the same period 56 attacks, in which 10 have a clear gender component, to which a case of sexual violence and a smear campaign to add sexual connotation to the violent attacks.