By Rodney Pinder
Hundreds of Mexican journalists silently marched in downtown Mexico City in protest of kidnappings, murder and violence of their colleagues, 2010 (Flickr/Knight Foundation)
Last week’s 10th Austin Forum for Journalism in the Americas reveals the plight of many local journalists working in Latin America.
The outburst from a Mexican journalist came a few days after the bodies of three photojournalists were found in a canal in the city of Boca del Río, in Veracruz state. Gabriel Huge Córdova, Guillermo Luna Varela and Esteban Rodríguez, a former Veracruz news photographer, and Irasema Becerra, said to have been Luna’s companion, had been brutally tortured, their limbs hacked off and skin stripped away.
Daniela Pastrani, director of the Mexican journalists’ association Periodistas de a Pie stunned a conference on journalist safety in Latin America held in Austin, Texas, when she reported asking a colleague what she should bring him back from the United States. That was his reply.
At least 30 journalists have been cruelly murdered or “disappeared” in Mexico since 2006 and dozens have been attacked, kidnapped or forced into exile from a country drowning in a maelstrom of ruthless criminality involving drug cartels and corrupt politicians and security forces.
“We are living in terror,” said former Veracruz photojournalist Miguel Angel Lopez Solana, who is seeking asylum in the United States for himself and his wife. His father and brother, both also journalists, and his mother were killed by unidentified gunmen last year.
The “bring me a gun” plea highlighted the plight of hundreds of journalists in Latin America, from Mexico to Brazil, Guatemala to Colombia, Honduras to Haiti, as they try to do their jobs in one of the world’s most hostile environments – kidnapped, killed and threatened by crime lords and corrupt state authorities.
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