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Blog   |   Mexico

Remembering Mike O'Connor

Mike O'Connor at a 2012 press conference in Culiacán. (Ron Bernal)

It is a sad end to 2013 for the global press freedom community.

With the sudden death of CPJ Mexico Representative Mike O'Connor, 67, on Sunday, Mexican journalists have lost one of their most formidable advocates. Mike will be remembered as someone who was on the forefront of the struggle for press freedom. His superb skills as an investigative journalist helped scores of reporters across the country during a period marred by violence and censorship.

Blog   |   Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, USA, Venezuela

CPJ testifies on challenges to democracy in the Americas

Carlos Lauría's testimony starts at 1:10 in the video.

Carlos Lauría, CPJ's Americas senior program coordinator, provided testimony before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of US House of Representatives on Tuesday. Lauría emphasized that violence and government harassment are the main emerging trends that illustrate the major challenges facing the press in the Western hemisphere.

A transcript of the full testimony can be found here.

Blog   |   Mexico

Mexico's special prosecutor hesitates over early cases

Police remove the body of Alberto López Bello, a crime reporter, from a crime scene in Oaxaca on July 17. (Reuters/Jorge Luis Plata)

Organized crime capos and corrupt politicians have been getting away with murdering journalists in Mexico for so long that there isn't a reliable count on the number of the dead or a useful way to measure the crushing effects on a democracy when a country's press is afraid to tell the truth. CPJ research shows that, of 69 journalists killed since 1994 in Mexico, 28 were clearly killed because of their work, and nearly all of those directly targeted for murder. But the killing started years before that, the numbers are not dependable, and the motives are often unknown, because the professionalism of the investigations is doubtful. Mexico's state governments have simply failed to find those responsible, and journalists working outside of the capital have for the most part decided their only protection is to not cover stories the killers don't want covered.

Blog   |   Mexico

Family murdered, Veracruz journalist seeks asylum in US

Several journalists, including Miguel Angel López, have fled Veracruz state fearing reprisal from cartels, gangs, or the government. Here, a soldier is seen standing guard in downtown Veracruz. (Reuters/Edgard Garrido)

A fellow newspaper photographer phoned him and said he had to get right over to his parents' home because something very bad had happened. When Miguel Angel López remembers seeing when he got there was "just blood. You can't understand that much hatred." He was talking about the murders of his mother, his father--a senior editor at the state's most important newspaper--and his brother, a photographer at the paper. The killings turned out to be the beginning of a war on journalists.

Blog   |   Mexico

What's risky? In Mexico's twin cities, journalists don't know

The letter "Z," painted on a hill in the state of Coahuila, refers to the Zetas drug cartel. (Reuters/Tomas Bravo)

The Durango state governor was on his way to meet with reporters. Before he arrived, the reporters huddled to decide the question of the moment. It seemed obvious: Why had a former mayor been arrested the day before in what clearly seemed to be a political move? "That was the only question," a reporter said later. "Did the governor have the ex-mayor arrested? Because, behind that move, you can feel a crackdown coming against the opposition." Yet, this reporter added, "It was too dangerous to ask. No one was brave enough."

Blog   |   Mexico

Mexican press fails to question Martínez murder case

Two men, one wearing a mask depicting President Enrique Peña Nieto, protest to demand justice in the Regina Martínez case a year after her murder on April 28. (AP/Felix Marquez)

He certainly looked guilty of something, and as if he'd finally been caught. With either his head down or with a kind of scared, dead-eyed stare, in a white jumpsuit, in front of the four Veracruz state police officers crowded behind him. They were all in black uniforms, with a strip of face and eyes showing through black masks, with four matte black assault rifles menacingly at the ready to guard a slim man in handcuffs. (Actually, had there been any gunfire, the police were so over-armed and so close together that it's likely one of them would have been the first victim.) Still, it all looked good for the cameras and reporters summoned to hear about the man's arrest and the end of a most doggedly troublesome case for state officials: the murder of Regina Martínez Pérez on April 28 last year.

Blog   |   Mexico

In Mexico, a movement and a bill against impunity

Protesters seek justice in journalist murders in Veracruz, one of the nation's deadliest places for the press. (Reuters/Edgard Garrido)

Who can say exactly when the work of press freedom groups, human rights defenders, and budding networks of Mexican journalists became a movement? It would have been many murders, many funerals, many orphans ago. It would have been countless news events--about crime, corruption, violence--that went uncovered because reporters and news organizations concluded that the only way to survive was to stay silent. But finally, several years ago, the work of all these groups began to push the massacre of the Mexican press on to the national agenda. On Thursday, the movement led to a bill that gives the federal government jurisdiction over crimes against journalists. Today, the measure awaits only the president's approval. 

April 26, 2013 4:21 PM ET

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Blog   |   Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, USA

At OAS, a victory for human rights and free expression

Foreign Minister of Ecuador Ricardo Patiño speaks about human rights during the Organization of American States general assembly in Washington, D.C., on March 22. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

By reaffirming the autonomy and independence of the regional human rights system and rejecting attempts to neutralize the work of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and its special rapporteur for freedom of expression, the Organization of American States (OAS) chose last week to discard proposals that would have made citizens throughout the hemisphere more vulnerable to abuses.

The OAS extraordinary assembly, held at the organization's headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Friday, adopted a resolution by which the 35 member states ratified the ability of the commission to continue receiving voluntary contributions. Analysts and human rights advocates say the decision was a blow to countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, known as ALBA, which have been pushing to preclude outside funding for the IACHR.

March 26, 2013 5:08 PM ET

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Blog   |   Mexico

Arrests in Torreón press crimes; will it make difference?

Twenty-one people have been arrested for a wave of crimes that included 11 murders (six of which were committed against police officers), the abduction for hours of five employees of El Siglo de Torreón newspaper, the murder of a mayoral candidate, and attempted murder of a current mayor in a large metropolitan area in central Mexico, according a senior federal official. 

March 8, 2013 3:47 PM ET

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Blog   |   Afghanistan, Mexico, Security, Somalia, Syria

Do news blackouts help journalists held captive?

An image grab from a YouTube video uploaded on December 18 allegedly shows NBC employees, from left to right, Aziz Akyavas, Richard Engel, and John Kooistra in captivity in Syria. (AFP/YouTube)

At any given time over the past two years, as wars raged in Libya and then Syria, and as other conflicts ground on in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, a number of journalists have been held captive by a diverse array of forces, from militants and rebels to criminals and paramilitaries. And at any given time, a small handful of these cases--sometimes one or two, sometimes more--have been purposely kept out of the news media. That is true today.

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