Wednesday 17 April 2013

Have Veracruz officials "gone rogue" in pursuit of Proceso journalist?

Martínez Pérez: beaten and strangled 
 in Xalapa, Veracruz on April 28, 2012
The Mexican weekly news magazine Proceso, known for being one of the last bastions of hard-hitting investigative reporting in this violence-plagued country, is reporting that one of its journalists, Jorge Carrasco Araizaga, has become the subject of a government-sponsored campaign in the State of Veracruz to threaten his personal security.

Carrasco Araizaga, who has reported extensively on the death of fellow Proceso correspondent Regina Martínez Pérez, who was also active in Veracruz, is allegedly the subject of an intimidation campaign among former and present state officials, including those within the Attorney General’s office.

According to Proceso, the plan was hatched in the Las Ánimas neighbourhood in the state capital of  Xalapa, and included an effort to use state and national databases to determine Carrasco Araizaga’s whereabouts. This was allegedly an ambitious plan that involved dispatching government agents from Veracruz to Mexico City and the states of México, Morelos and Querétaro, in order to gather information on the journalist.

As recently as this past Tuesday, April 16, Proceso has alleged that the “junta” – a generic term that can mean everything from an informal board to a ruling military dictatorship – had decided to capture the reporter and to physically harm him should he resist detention.

Attendees of this ad hoc meeting of self-styled rulers apparently were emphatic that the kidnappers "be careful with cameras" – referring to the prevalence of surveillance cameras in Mexico City that could identify the agents from Veracruz.

In response, the National Commission of Human Rights, the federal Attorney General's Office, and the Interior Ministry have all been alerted to the plot.  According to Proceso, a coordinated effort at the federal level has now been engaged to protect the journalist from the rogue actors from the State of Veracruz.

For their part, Veracruz state officials, including Governor Javier Duarte, have vehemently denied any association with the alleged plot.

Proceso has argued that Martínez may have died as a result of reporting that was critical of state officials.  Earlier this month a man was sentenced to 38 years in prison for the murder, with robbery as the stated motive. After the conviction Proceso published a report by Carrasco that called into question the state's case.

México is one of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists, with about eighty journalists killed since 2000.

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

For related stories see:

February 23, 2013: Tracking Mexico’s disappeared in a journalistic black hole

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
Email: lapoliticaeslapolitica [at] gmail [dot] com

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