The report originally appeared in the Global Investigative Journalism Conference news website. Crossposted at the University of Texas' Knight Center for journalism. Translated from Portugese. The news release was a digest of a conference panel discussion held recently.
Gracias to Veronica Calderon for the link
By Rodrigo Gomes
The reported cases of aggression against journalists in Mexico
reached a total of 225 between January and September of this year. Of
these, two of the journalists died and 33 left the country under
threats. In addition to the violence of organized crime, a serious
problem of institutional censorship also affects Mexico.
Other cases include the collective kidnapping of a team of
journalists, the burning of reporters' vehicles and an attack in which a
grenade was thrown at a newspaper's building. The situation
was explained by Ignácio Rodríguez Reyna, of the Mexican magazine
Emmquis, during a talk on investigations of organized crime as a part of
the Global Investigative Journalism Conference. Journalists that
also participated include Juan Luis Font (Guatemala), Romina Mella, of
the site IDL Reporters (Peru) and Martha Soto, of the newspaper El
In the institutional sphere, it has been six months since official
reports on drug trafficking and the wave of violence in the nation
simply disappeared. The reason behind this is the editorial control
exercised by the Secretariat of the Interior of Mexico (responsible for
public safety in the nation), which does not permit the distribution of
news about drug trafficking, assassinations or violence
According to Reyna, censorship in the nation is increasing for two
reasons. The first is self-censorship as a mechanism of self-protection
on the part of the media, which claim that the safety conditions to
cover subjects like drug trafficking and violence do not exist.
"In the state of Tamaulipas, the 56 existing newspapers practically
don't talk about violence because they can't guarantee the safety of
their reporters," Reyna said.
The second reason is institutional. "Since Enrique Peña Nieto was
elected, the Secretariat of the Interior has intended to control the
news about violence. The disappearance of stories about violence depends
on whether the publication can be considered traditional or leftist,"
Reyna explained. he added that "the Mexican State has negotiated with
drug traffickers with the pretense of reducing official rates of
violence," he said. However, between January and June of this year,
there were 5,989 murders in the nation.
For the journalist, the return to action of the Mexican army brought a
new harmony to the nation. "With this, a certain control over the
situation was guaranteed, ensuring the benefits of the drug traffickers,
politicians, businessmen and others connected to organized crime,"
Other roundtable participants talked about their work on clearing up
the relationships between drug traffickers and the different spheres of
power in the country: military, political and private.
Martha Soto talked about a report on which she is still working about
how organized crime is rooted within the structure of power in a
country. "Drug traffickers discovered the importance of linking
themselves to the politicians and businessmen not only to hide
themselves but also to keep and guarantee their interests," Soto said.
She added that one of her main works is about people who previously
formed part of the cartels and are now successful businessmen with new
names and new pasts.
Juan Luis Font talked about the investigation of a military officer
involved in the murder of bishop Juan José Gerardi. According to the
reporter, the officer controls the prison where he is serving his
25-year sentence. "He leaves (the prison) in official vehicles and picks
the director of the prison. We think he is getting plastic surgery
because he is always going to secret clinics," Font said.
"The parallel powers present in all political structures of the
nation compromise the functioning of the State. The press has the
fundamental role of deconstructing this power, which is invisible to the
majority of people," he added
Rominia Mella talked about a report that lays out a profile of drug
trafficking in Peru and describes its operation, production, exportation
and billing "as a part of an extensive job, with intelligence
information from police, military sources, the population and even
traffickers and soldiers of Sendero Luminoso (a Peruvian guerrilla
group)," Mella explained.
Rodrigo Gomes is a senior journalism student attending Anhembi Morumbi University in São Paulo, Brazil.