Photo: Mexican Journalists Fear for Their Lives, Seek Asylum in U.S.
A group of Mexican journalists are desperately asking the U.S. government to approve their asylum petitions, as they constantly fear for their lives for their depictions of drug cartels and the country’s military.
Emilio Gutierrez Soto, Ricardo Chavez Aldana, and Alejandro Pacheco are urging government officials to grant them asylum in the U.S., one of them having already been detained by the U.S. immigration officials.
Gutierrez told the Associated Press that he began receiving death threats after he began writing stories about members of Mexico’s military being involved with drug trafficking in Chihuahua in northern Mexico. Three years after he started the reporting, his house was pillaged, and the threats kept coming. He filed complaints with the national government, but received little help. In 2008, he and his then 15-year-old son fled to the United States.
Both he and his son were held captured by immigration agents and held at a U.S. immigration detention center, him for seven months, and his son for four. They were released only after his story aired on national television. His next hearing will not likely happen until 2012.
Gutierrez has a temporary work permit, but has been unable to find work.
“We are living a legal limbo,” he told AP, “We are unable to have any emotional, familial or employment stability.”
Until his nephews were killed, Chavez was a reporter who made waves attacking drug cartels on his radio show. He, his wife, mother, and son have all received death threats, and they only stopped when the family fled to El Paso, Texas in 2009.
At the National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ annual meeting in Florida, Chavez told several hundred journalists, “I have covered more than 4,000 killings.” Adding that criminals “are destroying Mexico. They are killing children [and] pregnant women.”
The third journalist seeking asylum, Hernandez, was a cameraman for the Televisa network. He was kidnapped by alleged members of the largest drug cartel in Mexico in Durango last July, along with three other journalists. The kidnappers were demanding that the station stop broadcasting stories about the gang. A week later, he was freed. In October, he too fled to the U.S.
All three journalists have said they will not return to Mexico, and currently, all of their asylum cases are pending.