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Mexico: the most dangerous country in the Americas for journalists

Five reporters have been killed in 2016 so far, according to an NGO

Libertad de prensa: A group of journalists demonstrate against the assassination of Francisco Pacheco. AFP

The last news story that Francisco Pacheco covered was about the chaos caused by several shoot-outs between various drug gangs on the night of April 24 in the most touristy area near the Port of Acapulco in Guerrero state. The next morning, the 49-year-old journalist was killed on his doorstep in Taxco, 170 kilometers from the capital. Pacheco wrote for a small news website and he was a contributor for local newspapers. Job insecurity and the weakness of the Mexican state in some areas of the country have made journalism a dangerous line of work. Pacheco was the fifth reporter to be killed in 2016.

International organizations have denounced the dangers journalists face in Mexico. The United Nations, Reporters Without Borders, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Inter American Press Society have all criticized “the climate of impunity” that allows assassins to retaliate against informants. Article 19, an NGO that studies freedom of expression, reported 397 assaults in 2015 including beatings, intimidation, cyber attacks on news websites and even grenade launches at TV stations. In 2015, a media outlet or journalist was attacked in Mexico every 22 hours, while seven reporters were killed, the group says.

In 2015, a media outlet or journalist was attacked in Mexico every 22 hours, while seven reporters were killed

According to the IACHR, Mexico is the most dangerous place in the Americas for journalists. Three reporters have disappeared and another 19 have been killed since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in December 2012. Ninety-two informants have been assassinated since 2000.

Besides Pacheco, four other journalists have been killed in 2016 so far. Moisés Dagdug Lutzow was assassinated in Tabasco, Reinel Martínez and Marcos Hernández Bautista were killed in Oaxaca and Anabel Flores died in Veracruz. Veracruz is the most dangerous area for journalists in the country. Sixteen reporters have been killed there since Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) Governor Javier Duarte took office in 2010.

English version by Dyane Jean François.

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