Candido Rios Vazquez was the ninth journalist killed in Mexico this year, according to the Los Angeles Times. He was killed in a shootout in Veracruz that killed two others.
Vazquez is not alone. This year proves to be one of the worst years to be a journalist in Mexico.
According to Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 2017 has seen four journalist deaths with confirmed motives, and one journalist was killed without a confirmed motive. However, the list does not include the recent deaths that many news agencies have been reporting.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Luciano Salgado was killed on Jul.31, the eighth journalist killed in Mexico this year. In addition, Salvador Adame, a local television director, was abducted and died several weeks earlier, according to The Guardian.
The CPJ index has not been updated to include the multiple journalist deaths that occurred during the summer. With the additional deaths counted, 2017 is now tied with 2016 for the second worst year for journalists in Mexico. 2010 remains the worst year for journalists in Mexico, with 10 journalist deaths that year.
Contradicting the CPJ index, the New York Times stated that 11 journalists died in Mexico this year. The NYT got their data from Article19, who also created the graphic below on journalist deaths from earlier this year.
The New York Times stated that its cases included journalists tortured or killed by request of mayors, reporters being beaten in their own newsrooms and police officers threatening to kill journalists. The environment of government hostility towards journalists means clear data on journalist deaths in Mexico is hard to find.
According to the 2017 Human Rights Watch world report, the Mexican government has a poor record when it comes to the treatment of journalists. The report states that journalists who report on crime or try to criticize the government face harassment and thus often self-censor their reporting.
According to Freedom House’s 2017 freedom of the press report, Mexico possesses a “not free” press status.
Mexico is also one of the most dangerous places to be a journalist, rivalling Iraq, Freedom House has concluded. Although a result of many factors, this poor rating is mainly caused by the Mexican legal system, which is notorious for its poor treatment of media employees.
In addition, nearly a third of Mexican states retain criminal defamation laws, and the Mexican government still has extensive access to its own citizens’ communications data, threatening free speech and privacy for all its citizens. Last year’s Freedom House report goes further in explaining how the political environment harms Mexico’s journalistic freedom.
Journalists in Mexico face challenges to receive official government protection when they are under threat. The journalist featured in the New York Times article mentioned above were technically under governmental protection; however, that protection failed to prevent a journalist’s murder. Aside from murder, Mexican journalists also face several other dangers, from smear campaigns to threats of physical violence.
The current situation for journalists in Mexico is both dangerous and seemingly unwavering. For now, Mexican journalists are forced to accept a hostile media environment and a hostile government.