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Mexico continues to be one of the most dangerous countries for journalists

October 6, 2008 | 11:06 am

Mexico continues to be one of the most dangerous countries in the hemisphere to work as a journalist, according to Gonzalo Marroquin, president of the Commission for Freedom of the Press and Information, part of the Inter Amercian Press Association (IAPA).

Speaking at the organization’s annual event in Madrid this weekend, Marroquin admonished the Mexican authorities for their failure to investigate crimes against journalists.

He promised to pressure the Mexican government to do more to end the impunity enjoyed by those who kill or intimidate journalists in Mexico. Those most at risk are journalists that cover organized crime networks and drug trafficking cartels here.

Gonzalo Leaño, director of the Guadalajara newspaper Ocho Columnas said: “The drug-traffickers want to intimidate us so that we don’t publish information about organized crime in our newspapers.

“If we, the media, don’t unite, this could reach unimaginable proportions.”

Three journalists have been killed here over the last six months, but violence against journalists in Mexico is nothing new.

Last year, the Paris-based non-profit Reporters Without Borders reported that in 2006 Mexico
was one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, second only to Iraq. According to the group's report, 12 journalists were killed here that year "with virtual impunity."

The group says that more than 30 journalists have been killed here in Mexico since 2000 -– the rise linked directly to a surge in drug-related violence, Ken Ellingwood reported in July.

Over the last few years, grenades have been thrown into newspaper offices, reporters gunned down in the streets and in June, a severed head was left in front of a newspaper office here accompanied by a handwritten threat against its director, Juan Padilla.

As drug-related violence continues to soar around the country, and President Felipe Calderon continues his military campaign against organized crime networks, it’s hard to see how journalists working in Mexico –- especially those covering organized crime –- are going to be able to work without fear anytime soon.

Click here for more on Mexico and here for our online coverage of Mexico's drug wars, "Mexico Under Siege."

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City

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