Mexico: Freedom of expression under threat

Mexico, March 18, 2013 (SEMlac Special). – Local authorities are not properly handling cases of harassment and persecution of both men and women reporters. Protection mechanisms are not working as they should because they lack economic and political support.

By contrast, any report against journalists is immediately considered, and even their personal assets are threatened.

Ana L. Pérez, a 34-year-old reporter, had to leave the country for Germany in June 2012. She is still being persecuted, harassed and tried for having documented a case of corruption at PEMEX, the most important state-owned oil company in Mexico .

“Pérez is one of the local news professionals who have courageously condemned violence and mismanagement in the country,” writer Elvira García indicated.

She told SEMlac that she had been asked to appear at the Mexican embassy in Germany for interrogation.

“Such an action is unacceptable,” said Rogelio Hernández, coordinator of the Journalist Protection Center .

Contralínea, the magazine Pérez works for, has 90 percent of its staff made up of women and has since 2007 under PEMEX attack.

Local journalist-defense organizations recalled that 89 news professionals had been killed last year.

“A reporter recently got killed in Chihuahua ; it is evident that protection mechanisms are both inadequate and limited,” Hernández stressed.

“Six years after its establishment, the Special Attorney’s Office on Freedom of Expression Related Crimes continues to be affected by lack of human and material resources,” he added.

Hirám Moreno, correspondent of La Jornada in Salina Cruz ( Oaxaca ), told SEMlac that he is being threatened by the local political boss and has sought protection from his union.

Gloria Careaga, an advisor to the National Women’s Institute, indicated that journalists have the ethical mission of informing the population.

“And that is what Pérez has done in a country where public servants are getting richer and over 80 percent of the population lives in poverty,” she emphasized.


The profession

“Against all odds, young reporters are documenting state corruption and misappropriation cases,” García said.

“Women journalists are being abused and discriminated against,” she added.

In her book Ellas tecleando su historia (They are writing about their stories), García reveals the experiences of 14 women reporters, including Pérez.

“She has for years been living under terror, away from her family,” García wrote.

Gabriela Delgado, a psychologist who is managing a human-rights program at the National Autonomous University , indicated that persecution causes emotional disorders like fear and stigma.



Pérez’ interrogation in Germany is part of a civil action filed by MP Juan Bueno in August 2011.

After her book Camisas azules, manos negras (Blue shirts, black hands) describing Bueno’s work as director of PEMEX Refining was published, García has been threatened to death.

In this context, Pérez addressed a setter to the Mexican public opinion indicating:

”In the past 10 years, I have investigated and disclosed information on serious PEMEX corruption cases, and I have therefore been threatened, harassed, attacked and persecuted.

The situation worsened in 2008, when I revealed contracts illegally signed by Juan C. Mouriño, Felipe Calderón’s Government secretary and PEMEX contractor at the time. I was forced to seek special security services.

In June 2012, I had to leave Mexico because my life was at risk, as documented by national and international organizations.

In February 2010, Grijalbo published the book and Bueno did not react to the allegations, even when he was asked about them by media representatives.

In December 2010, Congress established a special commission to investigate the reports contained in the book, as set forth in The Parliamentary Gazette (issue 3,164; dated December 17, 2010).

In August 2011, when federal legislators asked PEMEX and other government-owned companies to submit the documents cited in the book, Senator Bueno brought a lawsuit against me for moral damage.

He is now seeking to make the Judiciary gag the press so that no investigation can be conducted into past or current situations that may be of public interest. As a public servant, he should comply with accountability and other requirements.”

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