The country became the most dangerous in Latin America for journalists in 2005, with two murdered and a third who vanished, all in early April. Impunity reigns despite apparent efforts by the federal government.
Gunmen fired 8 bullets at Dolores Guadalupe García Escamilla, a journalist with radio station Estéreo 91 XHNOE in Nuevo Laredo (Tamaulipas state), in front of the station on 5 April and she died 11 days later. Raúl Gibb Guerrero, publisher of the regional daily La Opinión, was chased by gunmen in two cars on 8 April in Papantla (in the eastern state of Veracruz) on 8 April and shot dead a few yards from his home, apparently by hired killers. He had recently written about drug trafficking and petrol smuggling.
Alfredo Jiménez Mota, of the daily El Imparcial in Hermosillo (in the northwestern state of Sonora), has been missing since 2 April 2005. He specialised in security and drug-trafficking matters and was due to meet a contact, a federal official, when he disappeared.
Sixteen journalists have been killed or have vanished while doing their job since 2000. Three others were killed in 2005 but not apparently because of their work. Benjamín Fernández, a commentator with Radio Loma, survived an attempt to kill him on 6 November in Loma Bonita (in the southern state of Oaxaca). Relations between the media and the authorities are very tense in Oaxaca, where allies of Governor Ulíses Ruiz Ortiz frequently obstructed the operations of the local daily Noticias de Oaxaca from June 2005 onwards.
Organised crime, often linked with corrupt local officials, is the main reason for worsening press freedom in Mexico, especially along the border with the United States, where smugglers reign. Many journalists, seeing colleagues killed, choose self-censorship to avoid being the target of reprisals.
Since the June 2004 killing of Francisco Javier Ortíz Franco, of the weekly paper Zeta in Tijuana, on the northwestern border with the US, federal officials have formally been in charge of investigating murders of journalists. However, a special prosecutor’s office to handle crimes against the media promised by the federal government has never been set up, so the murder enquiries have made no progress and impunity has increased.