LatinaLista — Where there are civil wars, cartel violence, dictatorships and rampant social corruption, there are journalists being killed. According to Geneva-based Press Emblem Campaign, a non-governmental organization founded by journalists, there have been 92 journalists killed around the world as of August 25, 2012. It’s an increase of 37 percent over the same period in 2011 when 67 journalists were murdered for doing their jobs.
Mexico leads the statistical pack with 10 journalists killed (as of August 25, 2012). If these journalists are not shot outside their homes while taking their children to school or on their way to work or on the job, they are kidnapped, tortured and then killed. Mexican journalists know that no ransom will be asked for their safe return because once they’ve been targeted by cartels there is no returning to their families.
In fact, once Mexican journalists have been targeted and “alerted” by anonymous phone calls by cartel members, it’s not unusual for the journalists to quickly gather their families, pack a suitcase and escape the country asking for asylum from whatever country will grant it to them. So far, the US has had a fair share of cases asking for political asylum for Mexican journalists.
For those journalists who stay behind, continuing the work they love has meant compromising traditional ethics with surviving. Most journalists, in regions reeling from daily killings, will censor their stories about the violence, if they write about it all.
Over the last five years, as the violence against journalists has escalated, their colleagues throughout Mexico have staged periodic protest marches to demand more protection from the government and to call for justice for the murders. Too often, no one is ever arrested for the killings.
Yet, the names of those journalists, who have already given their lives for their country and their profession, are quickly fading into the past.
Believing that their fallen comrades don’t deserve to be forgotten, Mexican journalists have created a special crowdfunding project. They have identified 126 journalists who have been killed by cartel violence over the years and whose lives will be written about by a colleague and included in a book to be distributed free of charge at the Guadalajara International Book Fair in November.
The project, No se mata la verdad matando periodistas (Killing journalists doesn’t kill the truth), is about alerting the world as to what has been happening in Mexico since 2000.
We believe it is necessary for the world to know that since 2000, journalists and information workers have been subjected to threats and censorship, as well as kidnappings, disappearances and murders. This is a reality that is not often seen abroad, where Mexico is looked at surrounded by an aura of respectability, exoticism and kindness.
As of this writing, there are only four days left in the crowdfunding campaign. On the fundraising site there is a 25-minute documentary titled Silencio Forzado (Forced Silence) that debuted in March and was created by a group called Article 19.
In the film, journalists and family members, who have lost colleagues and loved ones, talk about how the murders have impacted them personally, professionally and the media industry as a whole in Mexico. The hope is that the book doesn’t just memorialize the lives of their lost colleagues but puts added pressure on the new government, which will take office later this year, to do something to safeguard journalists’ safety and bring to justice the murderers who have taken too much control of a country that prides itself on its independence.