The first anniversary of the murder of journalist Javier Valdez, which took place on May 15, 2017, in Culiacán, couldn’t have been more tragic. At the other side of the country, in Villahermosa, Tabasco, news anchor Juan Carlos Huerta Gutiérrez was murdered yesterday. As he was leaving home in his car, he was intercepted by another vehicle from which an individual stepped down and shot him.
In a year, little has changed for journalists. The insecurity rates registered in several areas of Mexico have also had an impact on the work of journalists, who in addition of the pressure exerted by political figures, they also face the constant threats of criminal groups for publishing information.
The number of attacks against journalists is well known by all. These numbers are waiting for this new tragic event to be picked up again. Before this crime in Villahermosa, in April, the Inter American Press Society (SIP) reported that Mexico had been ranked number one in the list of journalists murdered, with 12 cases in 2017. They further detailed that during last October, 4 out of the 14 crimes which took place in Latin America happened in Mexico, a situation which “represents the biggest affront to freedom of expression in the country.”
With the murder of Huerta Gutiérrez, five journalists have been murdered so far this year: Carlos Domínguez, in Nuevo Laredo, blogger Pamela Montenegro (known as Nana Pelucas) in Guerrero, Gerardo Martínez (editor at EL UNIVERSAL), and Leobrado Vázquez, in Veracruz.
Regrettably, this issue isn’t new. Data from the National Human Rights Commission show there have been 133 homicides of journalists – 14 of whom were women – from 2000 to date. In the last 12 years, there have also been 52 attacks against news outlets facilities.
The situation has caused an outrage at the inability of the State to ensure the protection of journalists in the country and bring to justice both the perpetrator and the mastermind. Organisations have been created to support journalists and social activists but given the facts, we can automatically say they aren’t working.
While there is no punishment against perpetrators we cannot expect our reality to change. Freedom of expression and the relatives of the murdered journalists continue waiting for justice to be served.