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Veracruz: journalists and the state of fear

On 30 January 2017m Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is publishing a report in Spanish, French and English today about the plight of journalists in Mexico’s eastern state of Veracruz, one of Latin America’s most dangerous places for the media, and will give a news conference in Mexico City on 2 February about the report’s recommendations.

Entitled “Veracruz: journalists and the state of fear,” the report is the fruit of a visit by RSF to Mexico in June 2016, during which it met with local journalists, representatives of NGOs and representatives of federal and state-level institutions involved in protecting media freedom in Mexico.

The report examines the appalling environment for journalists in Veracruz. Caught between ultra-violent criminal cartels and corrupt politicians, journalists who take too close an interest in sensitive stories or in organized crime are liable to be admonished, threatened and even gunned down in cold blood.

From 2000 to 2016 in Mexico, 99 journalists were the victims of murders that were clearly or probably linked to their work, and 20% of these murders took place in Veracruz alone. Cases of physical attacks and disappearances are also legion, and the shocking level of impunity shows the ineffectiveness of the many mechanisms created for protecting journalists.

The report includes the accounts that RSF received from Veracruz journalists about their problems, the need to censor themselves and the decision that some have had to take to flee the region. The families of victims also describe their mostly unsuccessful battles for justice.

The report concludes with a series of recommendations for Mexico’s federal authorities and for Veracruz’s new governor, Miguel Ángel Yunes, the heir of the appalling record of his predecessor, Javier Duarte, who disappeared into thin air late last year after the federal authorities accused him of illicit enrichment.

The recommendations, to be presented in detail at RSF’s press conference on 2 February, aim to end the vicious circle of violence, improve the existing mechanisms for protecting journalists and effectively combat the chronic impunity that constrains media freedom in Veracruz and the rest of Mexico.

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