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Mexican journalists march for freedom of expression in Acapulco

posted 8 Jun 2012, 03:44 by Mpelembe   [ updated 8 Jun 2012, 03:44 ]

Mexican journalists march in remembrance of their fallen colleagues as the death toll among Mexico's media rises.

Journalists in the crime-plagued Mexican city of Acapulco on Thursday (June 7) protested to highlight the plight of Mexico's increasingly embattled media.
Violence has surged in iconic Acapulco in recent years as drug gangs fight for lucrative trafficking routes in the country's Pacific region.

Javier Trujillo, a local Guerrero journalist, said the climate of insecurity in the city makes it extremely difficult for journalists to do their jobs.

"In Guerrero it's difficult to speak about freedom of expression. Above all, because of the problem of insecurity we have. Principally, in the last ten years almost 15 of our journalist colleagues have died or disappeared and have not yet been found. The state of insecurity that exists in Acapulco and the state of Guerrero makes it difficult to exercise freedom of expression. It's difficult to do your work when there are powerful forces that prevent you from working. In my case, I've had to self-censor to avoid having to face threats or aggression towards me or my family," he said.

In total, more than 70 journalists have been murdered in Mexico in the last decade, according to the government-funded National Human Rights Commission.

Dario Ramirez, the Mexico Director of Article 19, an organization dedicated to promoting the defence of freedom of expression and information, said Mexico's federal and state governments are partly to blame for not doing enough to protect journalists.

"In the political and social scene, we've seen more violence towards the press. The Mexican Head of State and Federal Government have played a role, but also in these last six years we have to recognize that the inefficiency and corruption and role played by state governors is also fundamental to examine the violence against the press in Mexico. So, it is the authorities from the different political parties, from the different spheres of government who have a major responsibility in the context of security for the press," he said.

Highlighting the threat faced by Mexican journalists, on May 18, the corpse of a crime reporter was found stuffed into a garbage bag in a suspected gangland killing in the northern Mexican state of Sonora.

Police officers located the body of Marco Antonio Avila on the side of a rural road the day after he was kidnapped by a group of gunmen at a car wash in the nearby town of Ciudad Obregon, state police officials said.

The body showed signs of torture and a threatening note typical of those used by drug gangs was left at the scene.

Avila covered police and crime issues for the local paper Diario de Sonora and had reported on drug-related violence.

The murder follows the killing of three journalists in the eastern state of Veracruz over the past month.

Drug cartels are thought to be behind many of the murders, but very few of the cases have been solved.

Last year, Mexico was the third deadliest country in the world for journalists after Pakistan and Iraq, according to Reporters Without Borders.