Freedom House Working with Mexican Government to Protect Journalists

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

The well known freedom and human rights organization, Freedom House, is working with the Mexican government in an effort to help protect Mexican journalists. Freedom House, headquartered in both Washington, D.C., and New York City, is doing what it can to help improve the situation for Mexico’s journalists. Since the Drug War began under former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, journalists have been among the most targeted sectors of the population. This has come as no surprise since journalists have tried to document the killings, networks, and information on who run the different cartels in Mexico. And for this the cartels have made so many journalists pay with their lives.

For years, Mexican journalists have complained of no protection from the government against the brutality of the cartels. Worse, the cartels have been able to take control of the local police and judicial forces in various parts of the country, and journalists became prime targets not only of the cartels but of the local police as well. From 2000 to 2013, 76 journalists have been murdered, and another 16 have “disappeared” since 2003. This makes journalism one of the most dangerous professions in the country. This is also bad for Mexico as a whole—if journalists are unable to do their job, then the government cannot root out corruption and cannot fight the cartels if the cartels are able to silence the journalists with impunity. It has also meant that the cartels have a free reign to kill any and all innocent people in their brutal turf wars. In the last years of the Calderon presidency, and the beginning of current Mexican Enrique Pena Nieto’s administration, the Mexican government has been working to root out local corruption and get rid of local corrupt police forces.

Likewise, the Mexican government has worked towards providing journalists federal protection when they provide information on what the cartels are doing. But this alone is not enough. The Mexican government is working with Freedom House and with the U.S. government to try and strengthen its democratic institutions so that journalists can do their work without threats or becoming targets of the cartels. All of this is easier said than done—the cartels are able to adapt to the situation, and they have a war chest from the profits of their illicit drug trades and other illegal activities that keep them going. The Mexican government has a stake in letting independent journalists be able to do their jobs so that the government can do a better job fighting the Drug War.

Comments are closed.