Silence or Death in Mexico’s Press

What They Said

“This is going to happen to those who don’t understand. The message is for everyone.”
-A note left beside the body of Valentín Valdés Espinosa, a Saltillo newspaper reporter murdered in January 2010 after reporting details of a drug raid.

“Those crimes where the victim is a journalist, in my opinion, can and should be considered federal crimes.”
-President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, discussing a National Commission on Human Rights report, in March 2010.

“Even though I did not have a passport, I decided to cross the border. … I knew we would be stopped and detained by immigration authorities, but I rather preferred that than being dead.”
-Mexican journalist Ricardo Chávez Aldana to the Ciudad Juárez station Radio Cañón in December 2009. Chávez had received death threats for his radio commentary.

“We have learned the lesson: To survive, we publish the minimum.”
Norte de Ciudad Juárez Editor-in-Chief Alfredo Quijano to CPJ in June 2009 after the murder of journalist Armando Rodríguez.

“The Mexican government acknowledges that impunity in these crimes favors their repetition and spreads self-censorship among reporters, which in turn undermines freedom of expression and the rule of law.”
-Carlos Aguilar, chief of the federal Office for Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, speaking at a 2008 World Press Freedom Day event.

“A month ago I sat next to a cop, turned on my computer, and opened my blog. The threats were there: ‘My dear lydia cacho get ready to be found soon with your throat slit, your pretty head will be left outside your apartment if you think you are so brave bye.”
-Lydia Cacho, a prominent Mexican journalist, writes on the CPJ Blog in August 2009.

“It is worrisome that attacks against journalists in our country provoke diverse reactions, including outrage, lack of interest, a sort of indulgence, and even veiled attempts to justify them.”
-From a February 2010 report issued by a Chamber of Deputies committee monitoring attacks on the press. 

“Aside from drug trafficking, in general there are no big troubles to work in journalism.”
-Octavio Orellana Wiarco, then special prosecutor for crimes against the press, playing down anti-press attacks in comments to Durango reporters in October 2007.

“The main source of danger for journalists is organized crime—and the second is the government. The worst scenario for journalists is when organized crime and the government become partners. And in many parts of this country, they are completely intertwined.”
-Gerardo Priego Tapia, a former member of the Chamber of Deputies, to CPJ in September 2008.

“We are here, journalists. Ask Eliseo Barrón. El Chapo and the cartel do not forgive. Be careful, soldiers and journalists.”
-A banner hung by the Sinaloa cartel on a main avenue in Torreón in May 2009. Barrón, a local reporter, had been slain days earlier.

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