It has been little noted in this country, but a spate of murders and kidnappings of journalists in Mexico has intensified recently.
A television reporter in Acapulco and a print journalist in the northern state of Sonora were killed within the past two months.
On May 10, Gamaliel Lopez Candanosa, a TV feature reporter rather than an investigative reporter, and his cameraman, Gerardo Paredes Perez, of TV Azteca in Monterrey, 130 miles southwest of McAllen, Texas, vanished. Colleagues fear they are dead, murdered by members of drug cartels. More than 30 journalists have been killed in Mexico in the past six years, making Mexico the second most-dangerous country in the world for journalists, after Iraq. Just in the past 15 months grenades have been thrown into newspaper offices in Cancun, Hermosillo and Nuevo Laredo, while gunmen have attacked a radio station and a newspaper in Oaxaca. A newspaper in Sonora is closing temporarily because of attacks and threats by criminal gangs.
Most of the killings, kidnappings and other acts of violence are attributed to elements of Mexico’s drug cartels. The narcotraffickers don’t appreciate being identified in the media or seeing stories about their activities, so they punish journalists and others in increasingly brutal ways.
The implications go beyond the fate of a number of journalists. Mexico, after decades as a one-party state, is still developing as a democratic state, and democracy depends on aggressive and independent sources of information.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon has promised to step up government efforts to protect journalists, but few expect satisfactory results. That is a troubling story for Mexico’s reporters and the citizens they strive to inform.