Mexican photojournalist Rubén Espinosa was just found tortured and murdered, along with human rights activist Nadia Vera and three other women.
Freedom of expression is under attack in one of Latin America’s oldest democracies, and Rubén is the 14th journalist killed in the southern state of Veracruz where governor Javier Duarte has made open threats against reporters. Almost none of these crimes have been solved.
But this case has sent thousands into the streets and set off an explosion in the national and global media. Now Gael García Bernal, Salman Rushdie, Christiane Amanpour and hundreds of journalists, writers and artists have signed an open letter demanding justice for journalists in Mexico murdered for doing their jobs.
The letter is already making waves with the government, but if we add over a million more names, and get it published on the front page of Mexican media, we can drive it home and show that people from every country in the world stand with the freedom of expression fight in Mexico. Add your voice now:
Mexico now ranks as one of the deadliest countries in the world to be a journalist, on par with war-torn nations like Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. And since President Peña Nieto assumed power, attacks on the media have risen by 80 percent.
For more than a decade Mexico has been wracked by incredible violence as cartels have waged war on each other for control of the lucrative drug trade. A slew of journalists have been killed for reporting on criminal gangs — but experts say many murders can be traced to reporting on political corruption. I know firsthand, death threats in the wake of my own political reporting in Mexico have forced me to flee the country more than once, I have been tortured and incarcerated by corrupted politicians.
In the southern State of Veracruz where Rubén worked for years, 13 other journalists have been killed in the last few years, all under the administration of a thuggish governor, Javier Duarte. He has consistently threatened reporters, and was apparently so upset by an unflattering photo Rubén Espinosa shot of him that he had the offending magazine removed from news stands all over the State capital.
In June, Rubén Espinosa told fellow reporters that recently he was being followed and menaced by men in government security outfits. He also said that someone in the State Government threatened him directly, saying, “stop taking pictures if you don’t want to end up like Regina,” referring to Regina Martinez — a journalist murdered in 2012.
Since their murders, a chilling video has surfaced, filmed by another of the victims. Looking straight into the camera, activist Nadia Vera says, if I am harmed, investigators should look first and foremost at governor Duarte as the man responsible.
But these tragic deaths could be a turning point in this violence as thousands have gathered to mourn and demand justice in Mexico City. If we stand with them now, and publish this powerful letter, we will show the government they are under the global spotlight and the whole world wants justice and urgent action to end these murders. Join the call — journalists in Mexico, and everywhere, should be able to do their jobs without paying for it with their lives:
When freedom of expression is under attack, The Avaaz community has reacted time and again. Now it’s time for us to raise our voices to support brave Mexican reporters and rights defenders. Let’s make sure they know they’re not alone. That’s the true meaning of global solidarity. We know it can empower those on the front lines, and powerfully turn situations around.
They will not silence us,
Lydia Cacho, Mexican journalist and human rights defender, with the Avaaz team.
PS – If you’re a journalist or writer, click this special link to join the campaign.
President Peña Nieto: Investigate the Murders of Journalists in Mexico and Establish Mechanisms to Protect their Lives (PEN)
‘They want to erase journalists in Mexico’ (The Observer)
Writers slam ‘censorship by bullet’ in Mexico (FT)
‘Journalists are being slaughtered’ – Mexico’s problem with press freedom (The Guardian)
A Gruesome Murder in Mexico’s Last Safe City (The Daily Beast)
Mexico City prosecutor confirms killing of news photographer (Reuters)
Mexican photojournalist Ruben Espinosa found dead (BBC)
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