Mexico: Organized Crime Groups Succeed in Silencing Journalists

Published: 13 March 2013


A news organization in Mexico will stop reporting on organized crime, due to the lack of “guarantees or security for the full exercise of journalism” in their country, according to a press release Monday. The move came after Mexican cartels named the owner of the newspaper in recent public threats. “(A) responsibility to look out for the safety and security of more than 1,000 workers, their families, and our own” drove the decision, according to the newspaper Zocalo.

Journalists have increasingly found themselves the targets of Mexico’s powerful and dangerous drug cartels. The cartels have the manpower, firepower, and clout to operate with near impunity, striking media outlets deemed to be a threat to their operations. On February 28, men armed with AK-47s attacked El Siglo Torreón, a newspaper in the same troubled state of Coahuila as Zocalo. An individual eating near the newspaper’s building was killed, CNN reported. The director of another area newspaper, the Ojinga News Portal, was murdered three days later. The portal has since closed.

Reporters Without Borders says six journalists were killed in Mexico during 2012. It does not take into account journalists who may have been “disappeared.” There are no statistics on how many journalists are pressured into silence or self-censorship out of fear for their safety or that of their loved ones. The numbers from Mexico’s National Commission for Human Rights are equally bleak: over 800 reports of threats against journalists between 2000-2012. There were 18 confirmed disappearances between 2005 and 2012, and 82 journalists murdered in that same period.

Threats, kidnappings, and murders of journalists and their families are not isolated incidents in Mexico. Instead they represent a concerted strategy to impose a rule of fear over the news media, one of the few voices still trusted by the Mexican people. The cartels hope to silence the voices that report on the crimes they commit, the violence they reap on the population, and the corruption they have sown in the Mexican government.