A Mexican newspaper in the border city of Juarez is shutting down. The reason? It’s too dangerous to do journalism there.
Oscar Cantu Murguia, the editor of Norte, penned an editorial informing readers of the publication’s decision to shut down. The letter, titled “Adios!” recounted the story of Miroslava Breach, a journalist from a city nearby who was shot in the head eight times while she was in her car with her child. The slain La Jornada reporter, who often collaborated with Norte, was left with a note by the gunman that read, “For being a loudmouth.”
“On this day, esteemed reader, I address you to report that I have made the decision to close this newspaper due to the fact that, among other things, there are neither the guarantees nor the security to exercise critical, counterbalanced journalism,” Murguia began his piece.
“In these 27 years … we fought against the tide, receiving attacks and punishments from individuals and governments for having exposed their bad practices and corrupt acts that only played to the detriment of our city and the people who live in it.
“Everything in life has a beginning and an end, a price to pay,” he continued. “And if this is life, I am not prepared for any more of my collaborators to pay it, nor with my own person.”
While the print publication is set to no longer run, its online news site will continue to operate.
For many Mexican media outlets, government advertising keeps many of them running, making self-censorship all too likely.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has reported that at least 38 journalists have been killed in the country since 1992 for motives linked to their reporting, with another 50 slain in the same time period for unclear reasons.
Just last month, a spate of murders took place, with two journalists killed in Veracruz and one in Guerrero. An armed attack on a journalist in San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, also left his bodyguard dead.
A recent report by the Inter American Press Association found that 13 journalists have been killed in Latin America just in the last 6 months, with Mexico leading in the number of these deaths. Since last October, Mexico has seen 5 journalists murdered; Peru has seen three; Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, two; and Honduras, one.
Meanwhile, a new report by press freedom group Article 19, found that people who kill journalists in Mexico get away with murder 99.7 percent of the time. It points out that 2016 was “the most violent year for the press in Mexico” with a record of 426 attacks and 11 journalists murdered, the largest number in the last 10 years.
“Mexico is clearly going through a deep, full-blown freedom of expression crisis,” said Carlos Lauria, senior program coordinator for the Americas at CPJ. “It’s affecting Mexicans, not only journalists, because the fact that a newspaper closes is depriving people of information that they need in order to take informed decisions.”