Mexico is considered one of the worst places in Latin America for press freedom and one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Between 2000 and the beginning of 2012, 55 journalists have been murdered in Mexico.
The murders of journalists are brutal – shootings, stabbings, decapitations, strangulations, torture – with the majority of them linked to the rampant and lawless drug cartels that plague Mexico. The intimidation and murder of print, broadcast and online journalists, as well as other media professionals, amounts to a systematic disabling of one of the most important conduits for truth, and tools for change. This accreted loss of men and women in Mexico who investigate and reveal information that is in the public interest will affect the ability of all citizens to make informed decisions and push for changes they believe to be right and important.
A photo exhibition highlighting the issue of press freedom in Mexico has been developed by CAFOD in collaboration with The Guardian and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), and launched on World Press Freedom Day on May 3, 2012. It marks the courage and determination of ‘The Silenced’ and those who continue to fight to tell the truth about the Latin American drug cartels, despite the risks.
Here are some comments from those who supported the launch of The Silenced: Fighting for Press Freedom in Mexico which took place in The Guardian’s London HQ:
President of the National Union of Journalists Donnacha DeLong:
“Decades of political corruption and human rights abuses in Mexico have created a toxic situation in which drug cartels have thrived. Journalists who try to report on what’s going on are paying the ultimate price for just doing their jobs. An exhibition like this that draws attention to the situation they face is an important step towards changing the situation in Mexico.”
CAFOD director Chris Bain:
“In the UK we can often take freedom of the press for granted, but in Latin America, the fight to tell the truth too often results in death. All those who seek out wrongdoing and speak up against the perpetrators must be protected; they are society’s watchmen and women, and they are vital to the wellbeing of every family, community, region and country. The courageous reporters commemorated in this exhibition must be remembered not just for their deaths, but for their dedication to rooting out the truth and laying it bare for the public to see. If the world is looking for heroes, here they are.”
The exhibition received extensive online coverage both before and after its launch, with articles appearing on; The National Union of Journalists website, Left Foot Forward, and the UNESCO website amongst others.
For more information on the exhibition at Morley College, please visit morleycollege.ac.uk. For more information about The Silenced and press freedom in Mexico fightingforpressfreedom.com and please follow us on Twitter #TheSilenced.