President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government responded they are convinced every crime must be solved and punished.
The Mexican government responded Tuesday to Noam Chomsky’s and almost 500 other international intellectuals’ and writers’ letter to President Enrique Peña Nieto demanding full clarity in the deaths of journalists in the country, specifically that of photojournalist Ruben Espinosa.
“The Mexican government is convinced that every crime must be combatted and that every loss of human life to acts of violence must be clarified and punished,” Roberto Campa, Deputy Minister of the Interior in charge of Human Rights.
Mexico today is the second most dangerous countries to be a journalist as 107 have been killed since 2000. In contrast, less than 10 percent of the cases have resulted in the sentencing of a responsible party. Mexico also has the second highest rate of impunity in the world.
Last Saturday, Chomsky and his co-signers sent Peña Nieto a letter demanding “prompt and efficient clarification” of the deaths of Espinosa and other journalists. Espinosa was executed earlier this month in Mexico City along with four other women. One of them, activist Nadia Vera, had also fled Veracruz due to death threats she received from the administration of Governor Javier Duarte. Espinosa also fled Veracruz for the same reasons.
We the undersigned, as journalists, writers, creative artists, and free expression advocates from around the world … would like to express our indignation regarding the deadly attacks against reporters in your country. An attempt on the life of a journalist is an attack on society’s very right to be informed,” the letter signed by Chomsky and hundreds of other intellectuals reads.
Campa said the government of Peña Nieto understands that crimes against activists and journalists have higher impact than the deaths of other people because it affects freedom of expression and the defense of civil rights.
Regarding the concern over the case of Espinosa and Vera being manipulated to seem as if the crime was robbery and not a Veracruz state government-sanctioned homicide against a journalist and activist, Campa said he spoke to Mexico City’s Attorney General’s office and was told “line of investigation is being ignored.”
The official also praised his government’s measures to protect journalists and human rights defenders, but agreeing with many experts and analyst, London-based freedom of speech organization Article 19 said they were not enough.
Article 19 noted that during the first six months of 2015, the aggressions against journalists have risen 40 percent.
“In general, since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in 2012, there has been a notable increase in attacks against journalists,” Ivan Baez, Article 19 human rights lawyer, told teleSUR recently.
Duarte was interrogated last week regarding the deaths of Espinosa and Vera, and as expected, he denied any involvement. However, the state of Veracruz has registered the deaths of 17 journalist since 2000, the majority of which have been killed during the government of Duarte. His state, thus, has become the most dangerous state in Mexico to be a journalist.
Mexico City officials reported Tuesday that more Veracruzan public servants will be interrogated in connection with Espinosa’s death.
Dozens of people rallied in Mexico City’s iconic Angel of Independence to demand justice in the killing of the photojournalist and the four women.
Mexico is shocked by these deaths and so is the international community, which have condemned the killings. Crime experts say it is rare for a house robbery to end up in execution of the people at the place where the crime is taking place. Espinosa, Vera and the three other women were tied up, beaten and executed by a gunshot to the head. At least two of the female victims were sexually abused.
The demonstrators called for Duarte’s removal from office, saying this would be the only way to carry out a transparent investigation.
Opposition lawmakers agreed and in fact presented a proposal to remove Duarte from office and put him on trial for various crimes.
Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) legislators presented the House of Representatives with a document demanding a political trial against the Veracruzan governor. They accuse him of “grave violations to the Constitution regarding human rights issues, violation of federal laws regarding the protection of journalists, victims and of public safety.”
The PRD parliamentary coordinator Miguel Alonso Raya argued that Veracruz is going through a phase of extreme and systemic violence.
He said the government of Duarte is directly responsible for the situation the southeastern state is living.
“Since Duarte took office in 2011, 14 journalist have been killed carrying out their work,” Raya added. “Also, 140 attacks have been reported on journalists, 53 physical aggressions, 21 arbitrary detentions, 18 threats, 15 acts of intimidation, six forced displacements, four enforced disappearances, three kidnappings.”