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Freedom of Expression

5 May 2011

Libertad de expresíon was written by editor-in-chief (Director general) Pablo Hiriart of the national daily, La Razon de México.  My translation.

Freedom House, the influential NGO that often relies on the way the U.S. government to set its criteria, said that Mexico is no longer a country enjoying freedom of expression.  This is true — in part.

Drug traffickers and violent gangs have robbed our freedom of expression, while the state is impotent to do anything about it.

As well as some governors who pursue the press armed with the criminal code.

In Chiapas, for example, then-Governor Pablo Salazar forced a newspaper editor who criticized him into exile.

He was physically pursued and legally hounded until he had to flee.  His son was imprisoned in Tuxtla Gutierrez on bogus auto theft charges.

Inside prison, he was subject to every imaginable abuse, and destroyed physically and psychologically.

His father, Conrado de la Cruz, former owner of Cuarto Poder, died of grief in the United States.

The son could not bear the humiliation to which he was subjected, and also died.

That happened in our fully democratic Mexico.

At the federal level it has been several years since the government told the media what to publish and what not to publish.

But the role of government is not just to take a hands-off approach to what others say or write, but to ensure that the freedom to do so can be exercised to the fullest.

That’s where we fail. In several states there is no freedom of expression because crime, organized or disorganized, dictates, monitors and punishes deviation from their editorial line by the media.

Where is the State to guarantee the freedom of expression?

Absent. Or impotent. It lacks the ability to guarantee freedom of transit, let alone freedom of expression.  There is no ability to guarantee freedom of transit, nor is there to protect freedom of expression.

It’s true that any newspaper can point out the real or imagined mistakes of the President of the Republic, his family or his associates.  But in large areas of this country, one cannot name the “capos” of narcotics or human smuggling organizations, much less refer to the associates or relatives of the Mafiosi who hide in plain view.

That happens in other parts of the world.   In Italy, at least one investigative journalist was also harassed and sent death threats.  But in few places are journalists harassed by criminals with so much viciousness, and so often as in Mexico.

So we find ourselves on the red list of countries without freedom of expression.

In fact, we have lost much of the country. We must recover this and other freedoms that we have lost to violence.

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