Journalist facing threats in Mexico forced to flee country

World Today

Journalist facing threats in Mexico forced to flee country

Around the world, war correspondents by their very nature routinely face danger on the job. It’s especially true in places like Somalia, Iraq and Syria. But also high-up on the list of deadly places to be a reporter is Mexico.

CCTV America’s Franc Contreras has the story of a fellow journalist facing such threats.

Journalist facing threats in Mexico forced to flee country

Journalist facing threats in Mexico forced to flee country

Around the world, war correspondents by their very nature routinely face danger on the job. It’s especially true in places like Somalia, Iraq and Syria. But also high-up on the list of deadly places to be a reporter is Mexico. CCTV America’s Franc Contreras has the story of a fellow journalist facing such threats.
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Journalist Zavaleta has decided to flee his home state of Veracruz, where he’s a correspondent for Mexico’s leading investigative news magazine, Proceso.

By his own count, 19 journalists have been murdered in Veracruz during the six-year term of current governor Javier Duarte. Zavaleta’s reports and new book provide details about alleged acts of government corruption and violence under Duarte’s administration.

Days after publishing the book, Zavaleta said he began receiving threatening emails from an anonymous source, trying to falsely link him to organized crime. Zavaleta said other journalists, who received similar emails, were later murdered.

“If you check the history of murdered journalists, you will see they are portrayed as criminals in attempts to tie them to organized crime in Veracruz. So for me, this was a very clear act of intimidation,” Zavaleta said.

Gunmen shot and killed freelance photographer Ruben Espinosa in 2015 in a middle-class Mexico City neighborhood. He had been working in Veracruz.

A previous Proceso correspondent, Regina Martinez, who also investigated government corruption in Veracruz State, was beaten to death in her home in the state capital, Xalapa. A man pleaded guilty. But journalists said he was set-up.

Reporting on violence and official corruption has been deadly for many journalists in Mexico. But experts said what makes this even worse is that the majority of these crimes, more than 90 percent, go unpunished.

Jan-Albert Hootsen reports on crimes against Mexican reporters for the Committee to Protect Journalists. He said impunity allows these crimes to continue.

“Perpetrators and those who attack and kill journalists they are basically home free. They are not being investigated properly and they are never being convicted. So you can kill a journalist, but you never get convicted for it,” Hootsen said.

Criminal groups have been battling each other for control of the shipping port of Veracruz city. Security experts tell CCTV these same groups have paid off Veracuz state officials.

Zavaleta said he left his home state reluctantly.

“I should not be here in Mexico City. But I am because they intimidated and threatened me,” Zavaleta said.

He does not expect those problems to go away anytime soon.