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  • Mexico has been rated the Latin American country with the lowest level of freedom of the press.

    Mexico has been rated the Latin American country with the lowest level of freedom of the press. | Photo: Reuters

Published 4 May 2015

Over 325 journalists were attacked and five killed in Mexico during 2014, as fears about impunity in these cases grows.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto congratulated journalists in Mexico on the International Day of Freedom of Expression, a statement that was widely criticized in social media and other networks as cynical and hypocritical as the country has the lowest rating in Latin American for freedom of press and is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to exercise the profession.

In 2014, over 325 journalist suffered aggression from both state bodies, as well as organized crime groups, while five reporters were killed due to their work, according to international organization Article 19. This means 8 percent of the 61 journalists killed worldwide due to their work last year were from Mexico..

So, Peña Nieto's statement that “the free expression of ideas is a social conquest that must not be given up and that today forms part of our democracy” actually does seem quite hypocritical, considering all the aggression against the media, including the recent firing of famous Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui and two of her research writers from media outlet MVS for exposing a corruption scandal involving the president.

“Did you congratulate Carmen Aristegui so that you can properly speak of freedom of expression you cynical ...”, said Wellman de la Cruz in Mexican daily La Jornada.

“You are vulgar and shameless, and as all politicians you find it easy to lie. Ask the people of Mexico what they think about your congratulations ... traitor to the country,” said Armando Barradas, in another of numerous statements against the president.

Article 19 recently published a report revealing that press freedom in Mexico faces widespread and growing threats from what they call “soft censorship,” which includes government use of financial incentives and penalties to pressure news media, punish critical reporting, and reward favorable coverage.

“While Mexican journalists are frequently targets of physical attack, soft censorship is another more subtle and very significant danger to press freedom,” the London-based organization stated.

On Sunday, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Anthony Wayne released a statement revealing another grave problem Mexican journalist face, which is the increasing impunity in cases of crimes against journalist.

On the International Day of Freedom of Expression, Peña Nieto said, “the free expression of ideas is a social conquest that must not be given up and that today forms part of our democracy.” Many felt a bitter irony in this statement, after the recent high-profile firing of famous Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui and two of her research writers from media outlet MVS, after exposing a corruption scandal involving the president.

Such was the recent case involving U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez, who, after a visit to Mexico and investigating various cases, said torture was a widespread practice by police, an accusation the Mexican government rejected.

Despite the fact Mexico has created various bodies to deal with human rights, “the levels of impunity are alarmingly high and we yet to see a successful sentencing in cases of crimes against journalist,” Wayne added.

On this international awareness day, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on governments around the world to defend freedom of expression and added that “throughout the planet, journalist are being attacked daily when trying to their job,” speaking in New York.

He also said many journalist are in jail and many more are attacked by governments that use their power to intimidate the press.

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