IPA joins Mexican calls to protect media and end impunity

The IPA has echoed a call by Penguin Random House in Mexico for sincere efforts to stop the slaughter of media workers and end the impunity that is eroding freedom of expression and Mexico’s democratic credibility.

The move follows the 15 May murder of award-winning crime reporter Javier Valdez Cárdenas, who wrote extensively about drug trafficking and organized crime. He became the fifth journalist to be killed in Mexico this year when he was gunned down in the street by an armed group, in Sinaloa.

Valdez reported for RioDoce, an award-winning weekly publication that he founded in 2003. Valdez, who won an International Press Freedom award in 2011, compiled much of his reporting into books. In late 2016 he published Narcoperiodismo, which tells the stories of Mexican journalists who have been victims of crimes.

His murder prompted Penguin Random House Mexico’s editorial director Ricardo Cayuela to write an impassioned think piece, which was published by numerous Mexican news outlets and co-signed by 47 Mexican publishers and writers. It decries the futile murder of a ‘great journalist’ and ‘friend’, and demands the killers be held accountable. The full text, in English and the original Spanish, is reproduced below.

Cayuela told the IPA via email: ‘Given what’s happening in Mexico, it would be naïve to think that publishers don’t run any kind of risks by publishing investigative journalism books – albeit nothing like the risk assumed by reporters in the field. Javier Valdez believed that silence was unacceptable since it would be to accept defeat in advance, and he was convinced that we have to fight for free and true information, which is the fight for freedom of expression.’

He added: ‘The saddest thing about this crime against Javier Valdez – a good man with a wife and two children now widowed and fatherless – is that his greatest concern as an author was to give voice to victims of violence. That’s why together we must ensure that this crime does not go unpunished.’

IPA Vice President Hugo Setzer, who is a Mexican book publisher, said: ‘The murder of Javier Valdez is a chilling reminder of the precariousness of freedom of expression in Mexico today. The coldblooded killing of journalists sends shockwaves through any society, and in particular through the creative and information industries, publishing included. When writers risk their lives just by doing their job, it leads to self-censorship or silence, both of which are symptoms of a diseased democracy. I can only salute the courage of the Mexican journalists and writers who bravely persist despite the dangers, and call on the Mexican authorities to take decisive steps to end the culture of impunity and safeguard the lives of professional media workers.’

Text by Ricardo Cayuela:

ENGLISH:

It was with profound pain and outrage, anger and anguish that we learned of the murder of the journalist and our friend, Javier Valdez Cárdenas, who was savagely slain for no reason in his native Culiacán.

Sadly, Javier's murder is neither the first nor last that journalists and our troubled society will experience. How many more crimes can we expect? What other upstanding media professionals are on the blacklist? How do you live in a country where honest and respectable work must be sacrificed, abandoned or expect cowardly attack? Why does no one take responsibility for the killings of journalists? How can democracy survive without freedom of expression? How can society prosper without even the slightest guarantee of safety?

Javier Valdez Cárdenas was a great journalist, an honest professional with a deep humanitarian conscience, the author of a series of poignant books that gave voice to victims and to the forgotten. He covered with exemplary discretion the mother whose son had been kidnapped, the woman who entered the drugs trade in pursuit of misguided dreams, the parents who went to pick up their bullet-riddled son, orphaned children whom the drug war deprived of hope in life.

Now Javier Valdez Cárdenas is among the statistics of horror and impotence. He was murdered practising journalism, obstinately defending truth, the bitter realities of those denied justice, of men, women and children who lost loved ones, pieces of their lives. Now we grieve for Javier and his death; it inflicts a wound on our society and leaves another red stain on this country.

They murdered a great journalist, a noble friend. Who will answer to his mother and children for his killing? Who will console his wife and siblings? Who will deliver justice?

We, the undersigned, journalists, publishers, writers and simple citizens, make a fervid call to the authorities to clear up this insidious crime and to safeguard the life and work of the press in Mexico.

ESPAÑOL:

Con profundo dolor e indignación, con rabia y angustia, nos enteramos del asesinato del periodista y amigo Javier Valdez Cárdenas, ultimado en forma salvaje en su natal Culiacán, sin ninguna justificación.

El asesinato de Javier, lamentablemente, no es el primero ni el último que vivirán los periodistas y nuestra agobiada sociedad, ¿cuántos crímenes más debemos esperar? ¿Quién sigue en esa lista negra de profesionistas serios de nuestros medios de comunicación? ¿Cómo vivir en un país donde el trabajo honesto y digno debe sacrificarse, abandonarse o esperar la cobardía del atentado? ¿Por qué nadie se ocupa con responsabilidad de la muerte de periodistas? ¿Puede sobrevivir una democracia sin libertad de expresión? ¿Puede prosperar una sociedad sin las más mínimas garantías de seguridad?

Javier Valdez Cárdenas era un gran periodista, profesional honesto, con amplio sentido humanitario, autor de una serie de libros conmovedores que daban voz a víctimas y olvidados, que atendía con excelente criterio a la madre del hijo levantado, a la mujer que por sueños errados entró de lleno al narcotráfico, a los padres que fueron a recoger acribillado a su hijo, a los niños huérfanos que la guerra del narco dejó sin esperanza de vida.

Ahora Javier Valdez Cárdenas es parte de las cifras, del horror y la impotencia. Fue asesinado ejerciendo el periodismo, obstinado en difundir la verdad, la certezas amargas de quienes nunca tienen justicia, de hombres, mujeres, niños que perdieron con la muerte de algún ser querido, parte de su vida. Ahora nos duele Javier, nos duele su muerte, lastima a la sociedad, se vuelve una mancha roja más en este país.

Asesinaron a un gran periodista, a un noble amigo, ¿quién le responderá a su madre y a sus hijos sobre su asesinato? ¿Quién dará consuelo a su esposa y hermanos? ¿Quién hará justicia?

Los abajo firmantes, periodistas, editores, escritores y simples ciudadanos, hacemos un enérgico llamado a las autoridades a esclarecer este artero crimen y a garantizar la vida y el trabajo de la prensa en México.

The co-signatories are:

  1. ALEJANDRO ALMAZÁN
  2. CARMEN ARISTEGUI
  3. LUIS ASTORGA
  4. ROBERTO BANCHIK
  5. SEBASTIÁN BARRAGÁN
  6. RAFAEL CABRERA
  7. LYDIA CACHO
  8. SALVADOR CAMARENA
  9. RICARDO CAYUELA GALLY
  10. JUAN ALBERTO CEDILLO
  11. DENISE DRESSER
  12. FROYLÁN ENCISO
  13. DAVID GARCÍA ESCAMILLA
  14. ALMA DELIA FUENTES
  15. ANABEL HERNÁNDEZ
  16. IRVING HUERTA
  17. JESÚS LEMUS
  18. DANIEL LIZÁRRAGA
  19. GENARO LOZANO
  20. FEDERICO MASTROGIOVANNI
  21. PATRICIA MAZÓN
  22. FABRIZIO MEJÍA MADRID
  23. ÉLMER MENDOZA
  24. SANDRA MONTOYA CÁRDENAS
  25. MARTÍN MORENO
  26. EDGAR MORÍN
  27. ERNESTO NÚÑEZ
  28. JOSÉ GIL OLMOS
  29. DIEGO ENRIQUE OSORNO
  30. ANDREW PAXMAN
  31. ANA LILIA PÉREZ
  32. ELENA PONIATOWSKA
  33. CÉSAR RAMOS ARÍSTIDES
  34. JORGE RAMOS
  35. FELIPE RESTREPO
  36. JOSÉ REVELES
  37. EDUARDO DEL RÍO “RIUS”
  38. RAFAEL RODRÍGUEZ CASTAÑEDA
  39. ARIEL ROSALES
  40. PALOMA SAIZ
  41. LAURA SÁNCHEZ LEY
  42. JAVIER SICILIA
  43. JORGE SIERRA
  44. PACO TAIBO II
  45. MARCELA TURATI
  46. JENARO VILLAMIL
  47. JORGE VOLPI
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