More Mexican Journalists Killed For Probing Corruption Than Cartels

Jorge Sanchez, son of slain journalist Moises Sanchez, director of the newspaper La Union
Jorge Sanchez, son of slain journalist Moises Sanchez, director of the newspaper La Union

MEXICO CITY â€" Who's killing Mexico's journalists?

Reporters and editors have increasingly been targeted for murder during the ongoing war against Mexican drug cartels. But a recent investigation by Mexico City-based newspaper El Universal shows that a majority of the journalists killed were not investigating narcotics trafficking, but local police news and national politics.

Some 58% of the 88 journalists murdered in Mexico since 2000 primarily covered police news and national politics, compared to only 23% covering narcotics trafficking. The report illustrates how reporters in the country have become targets not only for drug cartels, but also for corrupt local governments involved in drug trafficking.

Mexican journalists are often on the front lines of their country's vicious struggle against the cartels, but they also frequently uncover financial and political corruption at all levels of government. Seven reporters have been killed so far in 2015, representing a worrying rise since numbers began to fall after President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in 2013, promising to end his predecessor's full-blown war on the country's numerous drug cartels.

According to the El Universal report, most of the murdered journalists were gunned down in their homes or on the street, and over half of the assassinations occurred in the conflict-ridden states of Veracruz, Tamaulipas, Chihuahua and Guerrero. In areas where drug cartels may hold more power or legitimacy than the government, or where police themselves are linked to organized crime, the lines become dangerously blurred for investigative reporters.

"Some local administrations have been taken over by organized crime," said researcher Luis Daniel Vazquez. "This is very grave, because journalists reporting threats to the police worsen their own situation."

In cities like Veracruz, the constant killings have intimidated newspapers into refraining from exposing too much information on the local drug trade. But in others, like the once-infamous Ciudad Juarez, journalists have continued to risk their lives for their laudable work. Elsewhere the situation is more complicated, and some cartels have even sought to establish relationships with the press to smear and keep tabs on their rivals.

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"The Truest Hypocrisy" - The Russia-NATO Clash Seen From Moscow

Russia has decided to cut off relations with the Western military alliance. But Moscow says it was NATO who really wanted the break based on its own internal rationale.

NATO chief Stoltenberg and Russian Foregin Minister Lavrov

Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS via ZUMA
Pavel Tarasenko and Sergei Strokan

MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry's announcement that the country's permanent representation to NATO would be shut down for an indefinite period is a major development. But from Moscow's viewpoint, there was little alternative.

These measures were taken in response to the decision of NATO on Oct. 6 to cut the number of personnel allowed in the Russian mission to the Western alliance by half. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the removal of accreditations was from eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO who were identified as undeclared employees of Russian intelligence." We have seen an increase in Russian malicious activity for some time now," Stoltenberg said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called NATO's expulsion of Russian personnel a "ridiculous stunt," and Stoltenberg's words "the truest hypocrisy."

In announcing the complete shutdown in diplomacy between Moscow and NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry added: "The 'Russian threat' is being hyped in strengthen the alliance's internal unity and create the appearance of its 'relevance' in modern geopolitical conditions."

The number of Russian diplomatic missions in Brussels has been reduced twice unilaterally by NATO in 2015 and 2018 - after the alliance's decision of April 1, 2014 to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between Russia and NATO in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Diplomats' access to the alliance headquarters and communications with its international secretariat was restricted, military contacts have frozen.

Yet the new closure of all diplomatic contacts is a perilous new low. Kommersant sources said that the changes will affect the military liaison mission of the North Atlantic alliance in Moscow, aimed at promoting the expansion of the dialogue between Russia and NATO. However, in recent years there has been no de facto cooperation. And now, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced, the activities of the military liaison mission will be suspended. The accreditation of its personnel will be canceled on November 1.

NATO told RIA Novosti news service on Monday that it regretted Moscow's move. Meanwhile, among Western countries, Germany was the first to respond. "It would complicate the already difficult situation in which we are now and prolong the "ice age," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.

"Lavrov said on Monday, commenting on the present and future of relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic Alliance, "If this is the case, then we see no great need to continue pretending that any changes will be possible in the foreseeable future because NATO has already announced that such changes are impossible.

The suspension of activities of the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO, as well as the military liaison and information mission in Russia, means that Moscow and Brussels have decided to "draw a final line under the partnership relations of previous decades," explained Andrei Kortunov, director-general of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, "These relations began to form in the 1990s, opening channels for cooperation between the sides … but they have continued to steadily deteriorate over recent years."

Kortunov believes the current rupture was promoted by Brussels. "A new strategy for NATO is being prepared, which will be adopted at the next summit of the alliance, and the previous partnership with Russia does not fit into its concept anymore."

The existence and expansion of NATO after the end of the Cold War was the main reason for the destruction of the whole complex of relations between Russia and the West. Today, Russia is paying particular attention to marking red lines related to the further steps of Ukraine's integration into NATO. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously stated this, warning that in response to the alliance's activity in the Ukrainian direction, Moscow would take "active steps" to ensure its security.

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