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Latino Daily News

Friday May 4, 2012

Female Journalists Facing Greater Danger in Mexico

Female Journalists Facing Greater Danger in Mexico

Photo: Journalism in Mexico

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Female journalists are increasingly becoming victims of violence associated with organized crime and corruption in Mexico, where more than 75 media workers have been killed since 2000.

“Women are now starting to become victims of the killings and disappearances too,” Mexican journalist Elvira Garcia said in an interview with Efe Thursday to mark World Press Freedom Day.

The author of a book about muckraking female journalists said she firmly believes that women are currently “the ones doing the best journalism in Mexico.”

“It might seem like a rash statement but I’ll stand by it,” Garcia, a journalist with 40 years of experience, added.

Her book includes interviews and profiles of 14 women who fulfill dual roles as “citizens and journalists” and are capable of reconciling their personal and professional lives while producing work of the highest quality.

“They don’t use journalism so their faces or their voices or their names become famous. They use it as a tool to unearth the truth and corruption,” Garcia said.

Unlike their male colleagues who “live more like journalists wielding power from the ‘fourth estate,’” they are reporting important stories such as corruption at state oil company Pemex and the suffering of families of the tens of thousands of victims of Mexico’s drug war.

Marcela Turati, Anabel Hernandez, Blanche Petrich, Dolia Estevez and Stella Calloni are professionals who at one time or another have suffered political, judicial or sexual harassment or an attempt to prevent them from exercising their right to freedom of expression, Garcia said.

She added that these women are dedicated to “trying to open the Pandora’s boxes” and when they do “we find a ton of badly managed things.”

Women reporters play “such an important” role in Mexico that now “they’re in all areas of journalism, including those traditionally occupied by men, such as the crime beat,” Garcia said.

The author recalled that the first disappearance of a female reporter occurred on Nov. 19, 2009, in the western state of Michoacan, saying the journalist, Maria Esther Aguilar Cansimbe, remains missing after revealing ties between municipal authorities and drug traffickers.

The independent National Human Rights Commission, Mexico’s equivalent of an ombud’s office, has documented nearly 80 killings of journalists and media workers from 2000 to the present in Mexico, one of the world’s most dangerous countries to exercise this profession.

The most recent victims of violence against the media were two male photojournalists, Gabriel Huge and Guillermo Luna, whose bodies were found dismembered Thursday and bearing signs of torture in the Gulf coast port of Veracruz, officials confirmed.

Those deaths brought to seven the number of reporters killed in Veracruz state since Gov. Javier Duarte took office in December 2010.

The victims over the past 12 years also include female Indians Teresa Bautista and Felicitas Martinez, who were killed in the southern state of Oaxaca on April 7, 2008; Maria Elvira Hernandez Galeana, slain on June 28, 2010; and Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz, who was murdered on July 26, 2011.

The most recent female victim was Regina Martinez, a reporter for the weekly Proceso who was found dead Sunday in Xalapa, Veracruz, the author said, urging journalists to pressure authorities to solve the crime.