Mexico Makes Arrest over Murder of Veracruz Journalists

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Mexico has captured a suspected trafficker and hitman linked to the killing of four journalists in May, though impunity continues to be the norm for those who attack the press.

On August 10, Mexican marines arrested Juan Carlos Hernandez, a suspected leader of the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG), in Veracruz. Upon searching his vehicle, the marines found cocaine, marijuana, and hand grenades.

Authorities also discovered the identification documents of slain newspaper employee, Ana Irasema Becerra Jimenez, in Hernandez’s car. Becerra, an administrator at Notiver, was murdered in May in Veracruz, along with her photographer boyfriend and two other journalists; their bodies were discovered in a ditch, dismembered and with signs of torture.

InSight Crime Analysis

Since President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006, at least 67 journalists have been killed and 14 disappeared. Assaults on media outlets, such as a series of recent attacks against newspaper El Norte, are common. Human rights groups have deemed Mexico the most dangerous country in the region for journalists.

Even more disturbing than the level of violence against the press, however, is the climate of impunity. A special body set up to investigate crimes against journalists has not yet obtained a single conviction.

In an attempt to address the issue, Mexico passed the Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists in June, which makes violence against journalists a federal crime and establishes improved protection mechanisms for reporters under threat.

While violence against journalists in Mexico is primarily linked to organized crime, the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas has reported that in Honduras, the second most dangerous place for journalists in the region, the murder of press workers may be politically motivated.

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