Obama Urged to Raise Press Freedom During Mexico Trip
Washington, D.C. – This week as President Obama travels to Mexico, Human Rights First urges him to raise concerns about the ongoing violence against journalists there and the failure of the Mexican government to hold the perpetrators of these attacks accountable. Earlier this week, hundreds of journalists marched through Mexico City and in other parts of the country to protest violence against the media, including murders. President Obama’s trip this week coincides with World Press Freedom Day, a time designed to highlight threats to journalists and freedom of expression globally.
“Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a reporter,” said Human Rights First’s President and CEO Elisa Massimino. “During his trip to Mexico, President Obama should demonstrate the commitment of the United States to press freedom and free expression by calling on Mexican leaders to step up efforts to protect journalists.”
Just last week, Daniel Alejandro Martinez Bazaldua, a 22-year-old photographer for the newspaper Vanguardia, was found murdered in the state of Coahuila. At least nine members of the media have been killed in that state since December 2010. More than 80 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000 and another 18 have been reported as missing.
Today, Human Rights First profiled another Mexican journalist, Maria Elizabeth Macias, as part of its resource “10 Cases to Cover on World Press Freedom Day.” In late September, 2011, the decapitated body of Macías, 39, a freelance journalist and online commentator known as “La Nena de Laredo” was found in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. With her body was a message stating that she had been targeted for reporting about cartel-related crimes on the website, Nuevo Laredo en Vivo. Three other journalists have been found similarly murdered, accompanied by notes signed with a “Z,” the symbol for a powerful regional criminal organization known as Los Zetas. The murders have not been prosecuted.
The plight of journalists in Mexico and beyond was the topic of discussion last week when Human Rights First and the U.S. Department of State cohosted “Pressing for Freedom: The State of Digital and Media Repression Worldwide.” The event, featuring Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine and Uzra Zeya, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, highlighted ways in which the State Department can act to protect journalists in repressive countries.