|English | Español||December 20, 2014 | Issue #48|
Oaxaca Reporters Tell of Life in the Trenches
“Alone, Facing Power”: The Association of Journalists of Oaxaca Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary
By Nancy Davies
Dario Castillejo: La revolución
D.R. Dario Castillejo
Salaried journalists are often paid about 1,700 pesos (US$155) every two weeks, less than the outfits passing by. The lovely ladies and well-shod gentlemen passing along the walkway ignored the display of historic photographs and award-winning cartoons lampooning the political leaders of Oaxaca and Mexico, by such well-known Mexicans as Dario Castellejos, Mario Robles and Ithiel Ramirez.
To get back to the story, here’s a partial list of reporters murdered in Mexico during the past decade, whose deaths have not led to convictions:
Raúl Marcial Pérez
Alfredo García Marquez
Pablo Pineda Gaucín
William Uicab Salas
Héctor Félix Miranda
Víctor Manuel Oropeza
Alfredo Jiménez Mota
Rafael Ortiz Martíne Z.
One of the best known cases of violations of constitutional rights is Lydia Cacho, a writer who exposed a pedophile ring. Many believe she has been persecuted and threatened by orders of the governor of the neighboring state of Puebla, Mario Marín, commonly referred to as the “gober precioso” because of a tape recording on which he is addressed as “my precious governor.” Following a decision on November 28 by the Mexican Supreme Court, a great and furious lament went up in most news sources because the Court – by a margin of six to four – voted that there is no reason to investigate Marin, although as the APO noted there is “clear evidence of violations of constitutional guarantees of the reporter.” Threats and bribes of witnesses have been alleged.
Marín is one of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) governors. Widespread recognition exists that the three branches of government remain closely linked under the Executive, and that President Felipe Calderón of the National Action Party (PAN) protects the PRI in return for votes.
Additionally, the police have made attempts on the lives of six other journalists, according to the APO. Three reporters were murdered in October of 2007 on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec: Flor Vasquez Lopez, Agustin Lopez and Mate Cortes Martinez.
According to a reporter from Juchitán, the profession in Mexico carries a danger second only to reporting in Iraq. “Animals can be killed only in certain seasons,” he said, “reporters can be killed any time…with the complicity of the government.”
D.R. 2007 Nancy Davies
Unity among journalists in difficult times, to confront adversities (a word used by forum chairperson Cuauhtémoc Blas), define channels of communication among journalists, achieve levels of professional training and consolidate the Association as a pioneer organization for reporters in Oaxaca, were named by the chairperson as specific goals.
“[Governor Ruiz] has managed to divide not only the APPO and the teachers, but also the news reporters… the APO should be the place where we share alliances… the majority of news sources in Oaxaca reflect the position of the government,” claimed the El Financiero presenter who himself was a victim of Federal Preventive Police brutality of November 25. Abundio Núñez Sánchez suffered a twenty-centimeter wound on his head by a blow from a police club.
Unity has been hard to come by during the thirty years of effort; union organizing is all but unknown among journalists. Oaxaca has suffered from a monopoly of government control of the media, even to the point of attacking one newspaper, Noticias de Oaxaca, which held off a purchase bid by then-governor Jose Murat, and has been subsequently harassed by Ulises Ruiz, including shooting up the Noticias offices.
At one of the round tables, Cuauhtémoc Blas discussed the use of the internet and other alternative media – in Oaxaca, the best known and most widely used “alternative media” is spray paint on the walls. Internet use is limited due to costs; private computers are still fairly rare. However, the chairwoman of the discussion remarked on the necessity of maintaining the web without corporate ownership and censorship for future independence. Oaxaca Internet offers several on-going blogs (for example, Oaxaca En Pie de Lucha, Olor a mi tierra, and two APPO sites, all of these in Spanish), and for non-Spanish speakers a few blogs appear in English.
The other and better known “alternative” media is radio, which has been growing rapidly since its importance was obvious for the social movement in 2006. Radio reaches the largest audience share of Oaxaca media.
As recognition grows for community radio, which is largely unauthorized, Benjamín Alonso Rascón, collaborator of RadioBemba 95.5 FM, last month received the 2007 National Journalism Prize under the category of radio reporting for his coverage of the conflict in Oaxaca during the past year.
According to Amnesty International, the scale of attacks against journalists in the past two years has made Mexico one of the most dangerous countries in the world for reporters. The majority of the attacks are attributed to organized crime and narco-trafficking investigations. In Oaxaca City, reporters faced the crime of being out in the action, covering the social movement during police repression.
Of the hundreds of attacks on journalists, not one has been processed or prosecuted successfully, said several forum participants.
- The Fund for Authentic Journalism