Violence against journalists continues in Latin America

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Attacks on the Press 2008: Carl Bernstein on Self-Censorship of the Press from Meredith Megaw on Vimeo.

Here in Mexico, we keep our eye on the frequent press-freedom reports that come out, given the high levels of violence against journalists in the country and the culture of impunity that abounds.

Tuesday’s release by the Committee to Protect Journalists, sadly, held no surprises.


The organization ranked Mexico among the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists:

‘Growing violence associated with criminal organizations has made Mexico one of the world’s deadliest countries for reporters. Since 2000, at least 24 journalists have been killed, eight in direct reprisal for their work. Seven other journalists have disappeared since 2005.’

About Latin American in general, the organization reports:

‘Powerful drug traffickers in Mexico, gangsters in Brazilian slums, paramilitaries in Colombia,and violent street gangs in El Salvador and Guatemala are terrorizing the press. Self-censorship is widespread.’

The U.K.-based Frontline blog begins on a positive note about Colombia’s journalists, remarking that ‘according to the Foundation for Liberty and Freedom of the Press, no Colombian journalists were killed in 2008 for the first time in 23 years.’

But it goes on to say that a total of 130 journalists were killed in Colombia in the past 30 years. The CPJ reports:


‘While violence in Colombia has eased in the last four years, it remains one of the world’s most murderous countries for the press. Forty reporters, photographers and editors in all have been killed since 1992, and the country has the highest per capita rate of unsolved journalist murders in Latin America.’

And 2009 has already got off to a bad start for Colombian journalists, continues Frontline.

According to the Latin American Herald Tribune, Maria Eugenia Guerrero, a Colombian journalist, was found dead on the outskirts of the Ecuadorian city of Tulcannear earlier this month, ‘[Guerrero], who was working for the Integracion Estereo station in the southern Colombian city of Ipiales, was brutally assaulted and killed and her body was left in a remote area outside Tulcan. … The body, according to the forensics report, showed signs of sexual assault, and it is presumed the journalist was killed in a violent manner because a portion of her skull was not found and had presumably been detached as a result of a severe blow.’ link

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City