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Mexican journalists call for national protest to combat violence against media workers

Protests in Mexico City, May 2012. Photo: Protoplasma Kid via WikimediaCommons

A group of journalists and defenders of freedom of expression called for Mexican citizens to protest the insecurity and violence faced by press workers in the country on Sunday, Feb. 23. The group announced their call to action through a press statement given in Veracruz on Sunday, Feb. 16.

The group included representatives from Reporters Without Borders, the Inter American Press Association, Periodistas de a Pie, Casa de los Derechos de Periodistas, as well as a group of independent journalists. They joined the “Observation Mission” that was formed after the killing of Veracruz reporter Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz, whose body was found on Feb. 11, a week after he was kidnapped near his home in the municipality of Coatzacoalcos.

Mission participants, who traveled to Coatzacoalcos to speak with local journalists and Jiménez de la Cruz’s family, concluded that economic and political pressures along with criminal threats have lead to a climate of “insecurity and impunity”, elevating the risk of practicing journalism in the region.

“We reporters are the eyes, ears and mouth of society. Unfortunately, our work has turned into a problem for the official narrative. Our lives are at risk,” the organizers of the march told Animal Político after announcing the plans for protests in Mexico City and other cities across Mexico that will use the slogan, “Don’t shoot, we’re the press!”

The group included journalists and organizations that questioned the results of an investigation by Veracruz’s government, which said Jiménez de la Cruz's murder was motivated by personal vengeance. They demanded that an investigation be carried out by the Office of the District Attorney for the Investigation of Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE), a division of the Office of the Attorney General of Mexico (PGR).

According to the magazine Proceso, the Mission originally sought to investigate accusations made by journalists in southern Veracruz who said they had received physical threats and work-related harassment after protesting Jiménez de la Cruz’s killing. The group said it was “time to put a stop to the aggression toward local reporters,” that has cost the lives of ten journalists in three years.

Veracruz governor Javier Duarte Ochoa said that during their investigation, the authorities did not rule out Jiménez de la Cruz’s job as a possible motivation for the murder, assuring that the six suspects detained after the killing would receive their sentences in the next few days. He also said that on Monday, Feb. 17, the state’s attorney general would give members of the Mission access to files on the investigation, reported La Jornada.

Proceso said the Human Rights Commission in Oaxaca has expressed their solidarity with the journalists in Veracruz, saying the attacks against freedom of expression in Mexico are a set-back for human rights in the country.

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