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Javier Valdez, renowned Mexican journalist, was murdered on May 15 when he was on his way out the offices of newspaper Rio Doce. He was the sixth journalist murdered in Mexico in 2017 and the 105th to be murdered since the year 2000. “All these crimes are still unpunished” said Uruguayan journalist Eliana Gilet in an article published on weekly newspaper Brecha. Gilet lives in Mexico and Real World Radio interviewed her about the murders and disappearances in Mexico.
Valdez had researched on the world of drug trafficking in Sinaloa State, to the West of the country and was murdered in Culiacán, capital city of the state, at noon.
In the article published on May 19 by Brecha, Gilet made reference to the pain caused by these deaths in all journalists, but she said that Valdez´ murder “is a little bit heavier because they took a teacher”. “Valdez was a generous and open journalist, a reference for those who wanted to understand the drug dealing world, and also to know how to obtain trustworthy information in an environment where everything is darkness. He taught us to maximize the method, he explained that self-censorship is a way of surviving and also a moving boundary”, wrote Gilet in an article titled “No to Silence”.
A few hours after Valdez death, Sonia Córdova, head of newspaper El Costeño and his son, Jonathan Rodríguez, who also wrote for the paper, were shot to death. On top of this, another journalist, Salvador Adame, was kidnapped on Thursday 18 in Michoacán.
Gilet said that Valdez and Córdova´s murders took place in broad daylight and that this is “a sign of how impunity has shielded this violence”. It is possible that Valdez´ murder is related to his research on drug dealing, but even still, Gilet highlighted the direct responsibility of the State.
She said that according to official figures, 30,000 people are missing in Mexico. “This is the same number taken by the Argentinian dictatorship, but now we are talking of a democratic regime”, she said and asked “Who needs a dictatorship when they can kill us like that during democracy”. “The lack of justice is experienced by all families that try to demand justice for a crime. If it wasn´t carried out directly by the State, then it was carried out because of its omission, for failing to ensure the life and protection of those of us who live in this country”, she highlighted. She also made reference to the murder of Miroslava Breach, a journalist murdered in Juárez who had a message written on her body for the political class, involving the government.
This is not seen in the massive media, said Gilet. However, the daily work of journalists who are not part of the massive media has changed: they no longer run alone behind scoops, but share information with colleagues, so as to not be alone, and activate security protocols.
During the interview, Gilet was riding a bus from the Northern border to the capital of the country. She had joined the first international convoy to search for the people disappeared, which travelled through five cities of Coahuila State, in the border with Texas. The convoy was organized by the relatives of those disappeared: they looked for them in prisons, among sexual workers and forensic services.
“The amount of unidentified bodies that local prosecutor´s offices have buried in mass graves in these 10 years of the war against drug trafficking is endless”, she said and added that it is estimated that the people disappeared amount to 90,000 really. The journalist made reference to the pain of the mothers of the disappeared, and said that this struggle “turns victims into political actors, and that is what heals their pain somehow”. “If they, who are the victims themselves, do this, the least we could do is to make this visible, it is a pleasure, a privilege to join them, who are challenging everything. The courage of the Mexican people is one of the nicest things of this country”.
Gilet asked for help. She said that “Mexico is a place we need to pay attention to, because as Valdez´ son wrote in a letter “Don´t leave us alone, make demands as far as you can”. I believe that Mexico alone can´t do it”, she concluded.
Imagen: Javier Valdez during the presentation of the book “Huérfanos del Narco”, November 22, 2015. Credits: Gobierno Cholula.
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