The International Press Institute (IPI) today said it was alarmed for the safety of journalists in Mexico following a bloody month that saw three journalists killed and two more fired upon.
On Wednesday morning, gunmen shot at Armando Arrieta Granados, the editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper La Opinión, multiple times from close range near his home in Veracruz, leaving him hospitalised in critical condition. The State Attorney’s office reportedly has launched an investigation.
One day earlier, attackers opened fire on journalist Julio Omar Gómez Sánchez in Los Cabos, in the state of Baja California Sur. Gómez escaped, but his bodyguard, who was assigned under Mexico’s federal protection mechanism for threatened journalists, was killed.
A reporter for news website 911 Noticias, Gómez previously had announced plans to retire as a journalist due to threats against his life. Attackers previously set fire to his house in December and his car on Feb. 8.
On March 23, prominent journalist Miroslava Breach Velducea was gunned down in front of her house in the state of Chihuahua as she was about to take one of her sons to school. Breach reported on organised crime, corruption and politics for the regional and national newspapers like La Journada, and recently had reported on the discovery of a mass grave linked to drug trafficking.
The gunmen reportedly left a note with her body that read, in Spanish, “For being a loud-mouth”.
Only four days earlier, attackers shot dead another journalist in the state of Veracruz, the country’s most-dangerous state for journalists. Ricardo Monlui Cabrera, director of El Político and editor of El Sol de Córdoba, was leaving a restaurant following breakfast with his wife and one of his children when unidentified assailants opened fire, killing him on the scene.
On March 2, journalist Cecilio Pineda Birto was killed in the state of Guerrero when unidentified assailants approached him on a motorbike and shot him as he was lying in a hammock waiting for his car at a car wash. A journalist and editor for the newspaper La Voz de Tierra Caliente, Pineda specialised in police actions and gang violence in Mexico’s Tierra Caliente (“Hot Soil”) region.
Pineda had survived an earlier attempt on his life on Sept. 18, 2015, when an attacker shot at him as he was arriving at his house.
Despite Mexico’s government having put in place various legislation to combat attacks on press freedom over the past decade, the situation for journalists remains perilous. A forthcoming annual report by Article 19 suggests that 53 percent of cases of attacks on the media in Mexico were committed by public officials. The group also estimated that impunity prevails in a shocking 99.7 percent of attacks on the media.
IPI Director of Advocacy and Communication Steven M. Ellis expressed alarm at recent developments and concern over the safety of journalists in Mexico. He said journalists in the country often faced a level of threat similar to that facing colleagues covering active warzones, and he urged authorities to fully investigate the crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Ellis also called on authorities to do more to protect journalists under threat before they are killed.
“While we welcome efforts to help journalists such as the creation of protection mechanisms, a specialized prosecutor’s office, and a special follow-up commission for attacks on journalists and communication media, it is imperative that they be designed and implemented in a way that has a real impact on the danger journalists face and on the alarming levels of impunity in Mexico,” he said.