/ 16 September 2013

Mexico’s journos attacked and censored, says editor to Zuma

President Jacob Zuma arrived in Addis Ababa
President Jacob Zuma arrived in Addis Ababa

President Zuma's comments about Mexico's press are not only outrageous lies, they are insulting.

Mexico's media outlets avoid covering crime and violence in their communities not because of a patriotic duty but because of threats and aggressions unleashed against them by criminal organisations that authorities have been unable to stop.

The kidnapping and murder of journalists, as well as armed attacks against the offices of media organisations have grown in Mexico in the past decade and the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators only guarantees that the attacks will continue.

El Siglo de Torreón, the newspaper I work for in northern Mexico, has been affected by this violence and we have been forced to take our own safety measures to ensure we can continue our coverage of local crime.

There are other media outlets that do not cover crime because they are flushed with government advertising that effectively puts them under control of whatever government is paying for it, either federal or local, to make sure the coverage is positive.

Routinely criticised
The newspapers, radio or TV stations that do cover criminal violence are routinely criticised by government officials as negative messengers trying to damage the image of a particular city or the country, an argument similar to the one Zuma is using.

Zuma attributes the notion of "patriotic reporting" to Mexico's officials who told him about it in his visit to the country.

Perhaps those officials were covering up the fact that authorities have been unable to stop aggressions against journalists and that the silence of media outlets has been forced by criminal organisations.

Either Zuma was to naïve to believe it or he thought it was a clever twist of reality that might also serve his political needs.

In any case, I don't think that the public funds that paid for Zuma's trip to Mexico were well spent, as he returned to South Africa with no idea of what's going on in our country.

Javier Garza is the editorial director of Mexican daily El Siglo de Torreón and the special advisor on newsroom safety for the World Editors Forum.