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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Mexico leads globally as one of deadliest countries for journalists despite ‘historic low’ in killings around the world



Even as the number of journalists killed globally is at its lowest point in 17 years, Mexico continues to be the world’s second deadliest country for press professionals, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

On Dec. 17, the press freedom organization released its annual list of cases in which it has confirmed that journalists’ deaths were work-related.

According to CPJ, at least 25 journalists were killed this year. Of that number, at least 10 were “singled out for murder” and half of those cases were in Mexico, the organization said.

CPJ has confirmed that seven journalists in Latin America and the Caribbean were killed in retaliation for their work. Of that number, five were from Mexico, one from Honduras and one from Haiti.

The confirmed cases in Mexico are those of Nevith Condés Jaramillo in the state of Mexico, Jorge Celestino Ruiz Vázquez in the state of Veracruz, Norma Sarabia Garduza in the state of Tabasco, Francisco Romero in the state of Quintana Roo, and Rafael Murúa Manríquez in the state of Baja California Sur. CPJ noted that Sarabia Garduza is just one of two women journalists killed this year.

In Haiti, the body of reporter Néhémie Joseph of Radio Méga was found on Oct. 10 in Mirebalais. And in Honduras, broadcast reporter Leonardo Gabriel Hernández was shot near home in southern Honduras on March 17.

CPJ is also investigating 25 other deaths globally, 15 of them in Latin America and the Caribbean, to determine whether they were work-related

The cases in the region include: Mexico (6), Honduras (3), Brazil (2), Colombia (2), Haiti (1) and Peru (1).

The six cases in Mexico include those of Edgar Alberto Nava López in the state of Guerrero, Rogelio Barragán in the state of Morelos, Telésforo Santiago Enríquez in the state of Oaxaca, Omar Iván Camacho Mascareño in the state of Sinaloa, Santiago Barroso in the state of Sonora, and Jesús Eugenio Ramos Rodríguez in the state of Tabasco.  

The Honduran cases include José Arita in Puerto Lempira, Buenaventura Calderón in Gracias a Dios, and Edgar Joel Aguilar in Copán.

The two deaths in Brazil occurred within less than one month of each other. Romário da Silva Barros was shot three times in his car in Rio de Janeiro on June 18. Robson Giorno was also shot and killed in the state of Rio de Janeiro on May 25.

The killings in Colombia also occurred within one month. Community radio journalist Libardo Montenegro was killed on June 11 in the department of Nariño. Documentary filmmaker Mauricio Lezama Rengifo was killed near the country’s border with Venezuela on May 9.

In Haiti, radio presenter Pétion Rospide was shot while driving home from work in Port-au-Prince. His death occurred in the context of protests against President Jovenel Moïse.

And, most recently, the body of radio journalist Sonia Isabel Alvarado Huayunga was found in northeastern Peru on Dec. 9.

The number of global confirmed cases this year, at least 25, is in sharp contrast to last year’s figure: 56. CPJ attributes that to the stabilization of regional conflicts and the low number of journalists murdered for their work. It also called attention to efforts to combat impunity in killings of journalists.

However, the organization noted, “one place where efforts to combat impunity seemingly have had no effect is Mexico.”

Mexico and Brazil also made CPJ’s list this year of 13 countries where the killers of journalists most frequently go unpunished.

CPJ also added that at least two journalists murdered in 2019 in Mexico had requested protection from the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists. That mechanism, as CPJ reported, is widely criticized for being “understaffed, underfunded and unable to respond quickly with appropriate measures.”

International press freedom and freedom of expression organizations take into consideration different criteria when documenting the number of murdered journalists, therefore, figures vary between organizations. Some of these criteria respond to the type of journalism that the reporter carries out, whether they studied professionally, whether his death is directly related to his journalistic work, among others.

Though its numbers vary, Reporters Without Borders (RSF, for its acronym in French) also said the number of journalists killed this year was “historically low.”

The organization tallied 49 journalists killed in 2019 and said the decrease is a result of lower numbers of press professionals killed in war zones.

However, RSF noted, “the number of journalists killed in countries at peace continues to be as high as in previous years,” specifically mentioning Mexico.

Ten journalists were killed in Mexico in 2019, according to RSF, and “with a combined total of 14 journalists killed, Latin America is now as deadly for journalists as the Middle East, with all of its wars.”

Among other organizations that track killings of journalists, UNESCO recorded 21 journalists killed in Latin America and the Caribbean this year in its Observatory of Killed Journalists, which was launched in 2018.



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