Monday, April 30, 2012
Another journalist murdered in Mexico, once again in Veracruz, once again female
Regina Martínez, who wrote for Proceso, was found dead in her home about 6:00 p.m. Saturday (Apr. 28). She had been beaten and strangled. Local journalists said she was one of the most respected members of their professional community. Martínez, who had worked as a correspondent and reporter for several Mexican publications during a career which spanned three decades, covered crime, narcotics trafficking, the drug war, politics, government corruption and poverty.
The case is being investigated with the presumption that Martínez was targeted due to her occupation, rather than as a victim of common crime. State authorities said that a special unit will be assigned to the homicide.
It's the second execution of a woman reporter in Veracruz in the last nine months. In July 2011 another journalist who covered the violent conflict in that region disappeared and was found decapitated a few days later. The month before, her editor-boss and his family were shot to death in their home. Those cases have not been solved (Veracruz reporter paid with her life: http://mexicogulfreporter-supplement.blogspot.mx/2011/11/veracruz-press-furious-over-prosecutors.html).
In the 2011 cases the then chief prosecutor in Veracruz suggested that the woman and her editor might have been involved with organized crime, infuriating the local press. The prosecutor was forced to resign later in the year, after nearly 100 brutalized bodies were dumped on city streets in September and October.
In November the offices of a Veracruz newspaper were firebombed in a yet unsolved case. The premises and printing presses were destroyed (Veracruz newspaper attacked by arsonists: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/11/veracruz-newspaper-fire-bombed.html).
In March the international press advocacy organization Article 19 reported that 2011 was one of the most violent years for the media since the drug war was launched in 2006. The group says there were 172 reported attacks against journalists or media organizations, with 29 of those in the state of Veracruz, one of the most deadly areas in all of Mexico.
Article 19 filed a complaint against Mexico last year with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, alleging that the country has failed to discharge its responsibility to protect journalists from acts of violence. (Mexico fails to protect journalists, says complaint: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/10/mexico-fails-to-protect-journalists.html). The director of the group said that press-focused crimes leaped sharply in 2011, and that in virtually every case the motive was to inhibit the free flow of public information.
Among the most brutal of last year's violent attacks against journalists was the September kidnapping and execution of María Elizabeth Macías, a 39 year old editor of Primera Hora in northern Nuevo Laredo state. Macías was found decapitated and mutilated next to a public monument, her head neatly placed beside her body, a narcomensaje (executioner’s warning) at her side. She was killed for reporting on organized crime activities in the area (Amnesty International demands action in case of Mexico's latest murdered journalist: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/09/amnesty-international-demands-action-in.html).
Some international organizations, including the United Nations, claim that Mexico is the most dangerous country in the world for reporters (U.N. says Mexico is death zone for journalists: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/09/united-nations-says-mexico-is-death.html ). Since the year 2000 at least 75 have been murdered or disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Eleven died in 2011. Most are presumed to have been killed by drug cartels or organized crime groups.
In January 2012 a reporter was murdered in Nuevo León state (Mexican journalist deaths continue to rise: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/01/mexican-journalist-deaths-continue-to.html). And in March there was a car bombing outside of the newspaper El Expreso in Ciudad Victoria, in Tamaulipas state. No one was injured, but the event prompted the U.S. Consulate in nearby Matamoros to issue an emergency alert for Americans traveling in the region (U.S. Consulate in Matamoros, Tamaulipas issues Emergency Warning for Americans: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/03/us-consulate-in-matamoros-tamaulipas.html)
A Canadian clinical psychologist, Anthony Feinstein, told the Milenio network last month that Mexican journalists must work under pressures and tension which their counterparts in other countries cannot imagine. Feinstein said that reporters' families are themselves frequently subjected to intimidation, which subjects the journalists to even greater stress. In the 2011 Veracruz murders (link above), a local news director, his wife and young son were executed in their home. Sicarios (hit men) arrived early one morning, walked in and shot the victims before they could get out of bed. No one has been charged in the case.
In March Mexico's Senate passed a proposed constitutional amendment which would federalize all crimes against journalists and media organizations. The measure, which is designed to promote uniform application of the criminal law with respect to such attacks while greatly enhancing the penalties, is pending before the separate legislatures of the 32 states, 16 of which must approve it. It's expected to be adopted within a year. (Mexico poised to increase protection for journalists, federalizing anti-press crimes: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/03/mexico-poised-to-increase-protection.html).
A note on Veracruz
Veracruz has been under federal military control since Dec. 21, 2011. All local policing is provided by the armed forces, principally by Mexican marine and naval units. The entire municipal police department was disbanded due to corruption and cartel infiltration (Federal troops take over police functions in Veracruz - 1,000 cops dismissed: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2011/12/federal-troops-take-over-police.html).
Update May 3 - Three more journalists killed in Veracruz: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/05/three-more-journalists-killed-in.html.
Update May 6: The premises of Notiver and other Veracruz newspapers are now under state police and military guard (http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/845648.html).
No a impunidad en crímenes en contra de periodistas, dice Vázquez Mota: http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/845134.html.
Lucha contra el narco daña salud de los periodistas: http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/839263.html.
A free press under fire in Mexico: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/03/free-press-under-fire-in-mexico-and.html.
Reynaldo Escobar Pérez, the do-nothing prosecutor of Veracruz: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2011/09/do-nothing-prosecutor-of-veracruz.html).
Organized crime, hostile governments present challenges to Latin free press: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/11/organized-crime-hostile-governments.html.
at 5:07 PM