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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Mexican Supreme Court confirms journalist Carmen Aristegui was fired illegally



After four years of court proceedings, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation of Mexico (SCJN, for its initials in Spanish) confirmed that the journalist Carmen Aristegui was improperly and illegally dismissed by the MVS radio group, according to the site Aristegui Noticias.

The Supreme Court confirmed the sentence that three judges of the Seventh Collegiate Court in Civil Matters unanimously resolved in June 2018. The court confirmed that the termination of Aristegui's contract with MVS was illegal and improper because there was no valid reason to terminate it, according to Aristegui Noticias.

According to the supreme court’s final decision, its decision is also a consequence of MVS withdrawing the writ of amparo it filed against the ruling handed down in June by the Seventh Court, the site reported.

According to the site, this ratification of the June 2018 ruling in favor of Aristegui also determined that the journalist's contract with MVS remained in force. Aristegui’s untimely dismissal took place eight months before the fulfillment of her contract.

"In a country with a long history of government pressure and censorship of critical reporters and media outlets, yesterday's Supreme Court ruling in favor of Carmen Aristegui is a welcome victory for press freedom in Mexico," said Jan-Albert Hootsen, representative for Mexico of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Aristegui was fired and her program removed from air on March 15, 2015, three days after her colleagues Irving Huerta and Daniel Lizárraga were fired.

The two journalists were dismissed after making public their support for the independent platform for anonymous citizen complaints, Méxicoleaks, without the authorization of MVS. This platform was launched on March 10.

However, critics of the firings point to the journalistic investigation “La Casa Blanca de Enrique Peña Nieto” (The White House of Enrique Peña Nieto), of which Huerta and Lizárraga were part.

In the report –which Aristegui directed for six years and which was published in November 2014– the Noticias MVS Special Investigations Unit revealed that President Peña Nieto had a house valued at US $7 million that was built by a company that had contracts with the state, alleged evidence of a conflict of interest.

Columnist Javier Tejado of Mexican newspaper El Universal wrote that MVS said it canceled Aristegui’s contract "due to a series of demands and litigation regarding copyright issues."

However, he also added that "with information recently disclosed by the Ministry of Public Service (SFP) and access to reports from the Securities and Exchange Commission of the United States (SEC), there are indications that –like several independent journalists close to Carmen Aristegui denounced–  there would have been enough data to think that it was an act of official censorship well paid.”

After the departure of Aristegui, MVS would have increased its revenue from official advertising by 130 percent, El Universal’s columnist reported.

The judicial process for moral damages that Joaquín Vargas Guajardo, president of MVS, filed against Aristegui because of what she said about him in the prologue of the book "La Casa Blanca de Peña Nieto, la historia que cimbró a un gobierno” (The White House of Peña Nieto, the story that shook a government), is still pending, Proceso reported.

In the prologue of that book, based on the report about the multimillion dollar house of the then-president, Aristegui wrote that the businessman "previously gallant and brave, succumbed to the pressures of power," Aristegui Noticias published.



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