MÉRIDA, YUCATÁN – Being a journalist is a dangerous occupation in many countries, Mexico among them. Around the world, 46 journalists have been murdered so far in 2015, 9 of whom were in Mexico. Photojournalist Rubén Espinosa Becerril, who was found murdered in Mexico City last month became the latest addition to the count, bringing the total number of victims in the country since 2000 to 89.
Espinosa worked for AVC (a Veracruz news outlet), Proceso (a national investigative magazine) and Cuarto Oscuro (a photo agency), and had fled to the capital in early June, following death threats in the state of Veracruz where he was based. He was at one time the official photographer for the governor of the state of Veracruz, however resigned as his criticism of the violence against journalists in his state was incompatible with a government job. He later publicly accused current Veracruz governor Javier Duarte de Ochoa of direct responsibility for violations of media freedom in the state, as well as for the threats against him personally. Veracruz is considered one of the most dangerous states for journalists in Mexico, as The Yucatan Times reported last month; however the danger followed Espinosa to Mexico City where he sought refuge.
Reporters Without Borders / Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) of which this writer is a member, tracks threats to press freedom around the world, including murder and imprisonment of journalists, and their figures tell a troubling story. In addition to 46 journalists murdered worldwide since the start of 2015, 144 have been imprisoned, with 12 netizens/citizen journalists killed and 170 imprisoned.
The worst country in which to be a journalist according to RSF’s 2015 World Press Freedom Index is Eritrea, ranked at number 180, closely followed by North Korea and Turkmenistan. Mexico is ranked 148, keeping company with Russia, Gambia, Democratic Republic of The Congo, Turkey, Malaysia and Bangladesh. The best? Finland at number 1, followed by Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, and Sweden, while honorable mentions go to Canada (8), Ireland (11), and Costa Rica (16). The United Kingdom is ranked 34, while the USA is at 49, below Burkina Faso (46) and El Salvador (45).
We can consider ourselves fortunate that Yucatán is probably the safest state in the country for journalists (as indeed for everyone), with no murders of journalists recorded in modern times. However, we pause for thought and remember the great risks our colleagues around the country and around the world take every day to report on events and bring the details to us.
For more information about RSF, to learn about threats to journalists worldwide, and to view the interactive 2015 World Press Freedom Index map, visit http://en.rsf.org/