Mexican Journalists Under Siege: Between the Harassment of Local Governments and the Lethal Violence of Organized Crime





Larrosa-Fuentes, Juan

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Peter Lang


Mexico has experienced a severe decline in press freedom in the last decade. Historically, under the PRI, the government controlled media content and suppressed journalists. At the turn of the century, Mexico transitioned to democracy, improving freedom of expression, and implementing laws to protect journalists. This led to a brief period where the media could criticize the government without fear. However, the past ten years have seen significant regression. Mexico's shift from a semi-authoritarian state to a weak state has left journalists vulnerable to violence from organized crime and local officials. The chapter identifies three main threats to press freedom: increased murders of journalists, rising violence against journalists, and the emergence of "silence zones," where reporters cannot work freely due to cartel control. Journalists in Mexico face the highest number of murders worldwide, with Article 19 reporting 157 journalists killed between 2000 and 2022. These murders serve as a warning to others, exacerbating the crisis. Additionally, journalists encounter other forms of violence, such as home invasions, threats, and illegal surveillance. These attacks, documented at a rate of one every 14 hours in 2022, create a perilous environment that drives many journalists to abandon their profession. A significant portion of the violence against journalists comes from public officials at various government levels. With a criminal impunity rate of 94.8%, the Mexican justice system fails to prosecute crimes against journalists effectively, encouraging further attacks. "Silence zones" are areas where criminal groups dictate media content, forcing journalists to comply with their demands or face violence. Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Sinaloa, and Guerrero are notable examples where press freedom is severely restricted by organized crime. The chapter concludes by emphasizing the urgent need for comprehensive reforms in Mexico's justice and police systems to protect journalists and restore press freedom. These reforms are essential for maintaining democratic institutions and ensuring journalists can safely perform their critical societal role.


Palabras clave

Journalism, Press Freedom, Mexico, Freedom of Expression


Larrosa-Fuentes, Juan. (2024). Mexican Journalists Under Siege: Between the Harassment of Local Governments and the Lethal Violence of Organized Crime. In Robin Andersen, Nolan Higdon and Steve Macek (ed.), Censorship, Digital Media, and the Global Crackdown on Freedom of Expression. New York: Peter Lang.