“The media is only a mirror of real life. We don’t invent anything, we just note it down.”
Those words came from of a group of journalists from the Mexican state of Veracruz, who have been terrified that government officials were blaming journalists themselves for any harm that might come to them, from simply doing their job.
It’s part of a statement released in response to the murder of a fellow journalist, Anabel Flores Salazar. The crime reporter was known for covering the drug gang known as the Zetas and had been pulled from her home at gunpoint on Monday night. Her body was found hours later on the side of a highway, bound with a bag over her head.
Salazar is the first fatality among journalists there this year, but the threat is nothing new. Last year seven Mexican journalists were killed – the country has long grappled with corruption and cartel influence.
John Gibler, author of “To Die in Mexico: Dispatches from Inside the Drug War,” is a reporter based in Mexico.
Gibler says journalists there accept that dangers exist while reporting in Mexico.
“But that in no way justifies a climate of absolute impunity, of course,” he says. “Or should be used to normalize the violence not only directed against journalists, but directed at human beings across the country. The rates of homicides that have exponentially risen with the so-called war on drugs.”
Salazar worked in Veracruz, an area that is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous parts of Mexico for the press. Gibler says journalists in the area ask the questions others haven’t about Salazar’s capture and murder, in particular how the armed convoy of vehicles were able to remove her from her home by force and cross state lines undetected.
“In Veracruz at least 15 journalists have been murdered and three have disappeared just since 2010,” he says.
Officials have told journalists in the area “pórtense bien,” or behave.
“Which is outrageous, in the context of these people being murdered,” he says. “You have the governor, the administration most intensely linked to this violence against journalists, de facto blaming the victim, blaming the murdered journalists themselves.”