The BBC reports that the current record wave of journalist murders is threatening the roots of free expression in Mexican society….
One was killed while resting in a hammock at a carwash. A second was dragged from his car and shot dead near the newspaper he had co-founded. When another was killed in front of her son, the criminals left a note: “For your long tongue”.
Journalists are being murdered in Mexico and this is nothing new. This is one of the most dangerous countries for reporters, rights groups say, and more die here than in any other nation at peace.
But even for a place so used to drugs-related violence and organised crime, the recent bloodshed has been shocking.
Seven journalists have been killed in the country so far this year, most shot by gunmen in broad daylight. Yet virtually all cases of attacks on the press end up unsolved and, in many, corrupt officials are suspected of partnering with criminals.
As the killings mount, is there anything that Mexico can do to save its journalists?
‘A network of evil’
Miroslava Breach used to say that corrupt politicians were more dangerous than drug traffickers. For almost 30 years, she investigated cases in which authorities and criminals appeared to work hand in hand in her native state of Chihuahua, in northern Mexico.
Last year, Miros, as friends called her, reported for the national newspaper La Jornada on the alleged links between organised crime and candidates standing in the local elections in several towns in western Chihuahua – some located on lucrative drug-trafficking routes.
For her enemies, she had crossed a line.
“Sister, now I’m really scared,” her sister Rosy recalled a tearful Breach saying, as threats had increased and regularly mentioned her children. Breach alerted the authorities but carried on, not knowing what else to do.
“She said that against a network of evil there was nothing that could be done,” Rosy said.
Then last March, as Breach left home in the morning to take her 14-year-old son to school, gunmen shot her eight times. They left a note, reportedly carrying the initials of one of the bandits she had denounced and a message: “Por lengua larga,” meaning for your long tongue.
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