Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Against the Attacks on Journalists

El Universal on the Sunday night grenade attack on the Saltillo paper Vanguardia:
No journalist is more than a common citizen, but as with every common citizen he has the right that the state --at all three levels of government-- guarantees his physical security as well as the conditions in which to carry out his job. And the issue goes even further.

Defending Vanguardia is not a simple matter of solidarity of colleagues, but rather a basic instinct of the survival of democracy in the country. Shutting up the media is the first step toward authoritarianism. The threats to free expression from organized crime are growing, principally in the North and central portion of the country, without their being detainees, much less convictions.

Gonzalo Marroquín, president of the Inter-American Press Society, is right when he asks the government for a swift investigation so as to avoid that savage acts like this continue to undermine the freedom of the press and that they adopt security measures for members of the newspaper. "If the responsible parties are not punished there is the risk that the violent parties fulfill their goal of intimidating the media, that they self-censor and that freedom of the press and the right of the public to be informed continues to be undermined."

Allowing criminals to control what is said is the same as having lost control of regions of the country, where there are powers above the state. Like feudal lords the criminals would decide who lives and who dies, who speaks and who doesn't. Coahuila is a state with proven greatness, with a booming society and economy, that don't deserve to live under siege. It is urgent that this be the first of many solved cases of aggression against the press.
It seems as though in recent months the number of attacks on journalists has dropped. However, even if I am correct (and I may well not be), without the government having done anything to punish the people responsible for attacks on the press, it's hard to see that possible decrease as more than a blip in an otherwise alarming and decade-long trend.

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