Targeted for reporting on the drug war: Mexican journalist speaks at Ryerson

By: Ricardo Serrano 

Persecution, harassment and espionage. These are some of the things Mexican journalists encounter on the job.  

Adela Navarro spoke at Ryerson University on Wednesday night and shared her experiences working as a journalist in Mexico, documented as one of the most dangerous places for the press.

Just this year four journalists have died, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Mexican journalists often encounter persecution, harassment and espionage, Navarro said. (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

“We have to choose between the bullets of the drug cartels and the cells of the government,” Navarro said, describing the challenge of being an investigative reporter in her home country.

The challenge is deepened by the response from the country’s judicial system, Navarro said. Around 96 per cent of the crimes committed to journalists in Mexico stay unpunished.

Under the administration of current president Peña Nieto, some changes were made to  criminal justice law that, according to Navarro, helped drug dealers and corrupt officials get away with their crimes and obstruct journalists’ ability to do their job.

Such laws protecting the identity and personal information of criminals on the run, make it hard for journalists to investigate crime stories.

“Peña Nieto is an expert on receiving reports about the violation of human rights, but not on actually doing something to fix them,” Navarro said, who added that journalists in Mexico constantly suffer intimidation from the authorities.

Navarro has received two death threats for doing her job, including one received last April. Two of her co-workers have been killed in the last decade. Since then she has had to hire bodyguards to protect herself.

Yet Navarro remains committed to her trade. Despite being offered asylum from the American government on two occasions, she has opted to remain in Mexico and continue her work.

Despite the challenges, Navarro remains optimistic about the future of Mexican journalism.

“There is a boom of independent media, which is working along with society to pressure authorities on telling the truth and work as they should.”

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