Local Mexicali Resiste movement against a construction project continues

Peaceful Assembly

According to reports, on 16th January 2018 five people were arrested while protesting the construction of a brewery in Mexicali. Local residents say it will consume too much of the area's scarce water supply. Seven people were reportedly injured, including a police officer and a journalist who was hit by a stone. Calling themselves Mexicali Resiste, local residents have established a camp outside of the brewery site, which is owned by the U.S. company Constellation Brands. Protesters have blocked the roads to prevent construction workers from reaching the brewery site, and in early November two people climbed to the top of a construction crane and started a hunger strike. 

On 28th November 2017, a group of pilots went on a six-hour strike. The workers wanted to call attention to the recent layoff of one pilot. The company has said it will review the circumstances surrounding the pilot's dismissal.

Expression

Journalists murdered

On 13th January 2018, a journalist was killed while his car was stopped at a red light, and authorities believe his death may be related to his work covering government affairs. Carlos Dominguez Rodriguez was murdered in Nuevo Laredo while driving with family members who were unharmed in the attack. A longtime reporter who had recently become a freelancer, Rodriquez frequently reported on the country's political violence. In a column published a day before his murder, he had written about the government’s “failure on the matter of public security” and criticised a local mayor for “lashing out against journalists who expose her flagrant faults”.

On 19th December 2017, three armed assailants shot and killed a journalist while he attended a Christmas event at his son's school in Veracruz. Gumaro Pérez Aguilando, founder of the news website La Voz del Sur, was under state protection due to his longtime reporting on crime and politics. Governor Miguel Angel Yunes ordered police protection for the journalist's family. The United Nations issued a statement through its Mexico office, declaring that the murder is part of "a terrible year for freedom of expression in Mexico”.

Journalists threatened and property vandalised

Two journalists received death threats online in January 2018 for expressing their support for another reporter with an ongoing legal battle related to a presidential candidate. According to Article 19, the same Twitter handles were used to send threatening messages to Gildo Garza and Omar Bello Pineda, with one of the messages threatening that they will be "lying in the bush with a shot in the head". The death threats were reportedly made after the two reporters expressed solidarity with Amir Ibrahim, a colleague who is suing Carlos Mimenza Novelo, a businessman running for president who has allegedly threatened Ibrahim online.

On 5th December 2017, the home of a journalist for the newspaper Excélsior was attacked in León, Guanajuato. Andrés Guardiola told Article 19 that his neighbour saw four men get out of a van and vandalise the electrical metre attached to Guardiola's house. "It is not a veiled threat, it is a direct threat", said Guardiola.

On 24th November, the home and car of Nicanor Garrido, a photojournalist with El Heraldo de León in Guanajuato, was attacked in the early morning hours. Article 19 reported that a Molotov cocktail or improvised fire bomb was thrown at his car causing damage to the vehicle and the front of his house. Garrido and his family were home at the time of the attack. On 14th January 2018, an unidentified man tried to break into the home of Alfonso Machuca with El Otro Enfoque in Silao Guanajuato. The man fled after Machuca's wife encountered him and screamed.

On 12th December, the same phone number was reportedly used to threaten two journalists in separate incidents. Javier Sicilia, a correspondent for La Jornada y Proceso, says he received a call from an unidentified person who threatened him and his wife. Minutes later, the same phone number was used to call Jaime Luis Brito, a reporter for Proceso, but he did not answer the phone. Article 19 reports that other reporters may have received calls from the same phone number. Both Sicilla and Brito have reported on high-profile corruption cases, and Brito is enrolled in the Federal Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, given the seriousness of the threats he received in 2015.

On 29th November, two severed heads and a threatening message was found outside the offices of a TV news station in Guadalajara. According to local media reports, the message was directed at a local judge and signed with "CJNG" - the initials of Jalisco New Generation Cartel, a drug gang. More human remains containing a similar threatening note, also signed CJNG and directed at the same judge, were found at a different location. The judge has not been identified in the reports.

Journalists detained, intimidated and harassed by police

In another incident, two reporters for Megacanal were reportedly detained, threatened and assaulted by local police officers while interviewing parents at a local elementary school in Metepec. According to Article 19, members of the Auxiliary Security Corps of the State of Mexico who were at the school told the reporters - Abadiel Martínez and Karim Rangel - that they had committed an ambiguous offense and would be unable to leave the school property. After more police arrived, the two reporters were transported to the police station. Officers hit them in the face and mocked them, saying that this would "be again in the newspaper".

A photojournalist in Chihuahua says he was intimidated and harassed by police who tried to block him from covering a shooting incident on 11th December 2017. According to Article 19, when Daniel García arrived at the scene of the incident, he saw police beating a suspect and started taking photos of the incident. Once the police saw him, they cordoned off the area, and used bright lights and a van to prevent him from taking photographs. Police then took pictures of Garcia and his car's license plate.

Journalists attacked

On 25th December 2017, the home of a TV journalist was set on fire in San Agustín de las Juntas, Oaxaca. Neighbors of Jaime Méndez Pérez, the director of Agencia JM Noticias, say they saw three men running away from the house after the fire broke out at 4:00am. Perez, whose work covers many government-related issues, says this is not the first time he has been threatened for his work. In 2011, he faced a lawsuit filed by former government officials he had implicated as being connected with organised crime in his reporting.

On 2nd December 2017, the Attorney General's office announced that it had arrested a police officer accused of abducting a journalist in February 2017. Acting on a warrant and request by the Special Prosecutor's Office for Attention to Crimes against Freedom of Expression, the Attorney General says Fabricio Valenzuela Ruiz, a high-ranking officer with the state police of Baja California, abducted and robbed Mariano Soto Cortez, a reporter for the Tijuana Sin Censura. Cortez told authorities in March that on 15th February 2017 he was detained for 13 hours, tortured, had work-related materials taken from him. He was told that he and his family would be killed if he continued to publish stories about Daniel De La Rosa Anaya, Secretary of Public Security in Tijuana, another official potentially connected to the journalist's abduction.

After a visit to Mexico, the Office of the Special Rapporteur for freedom of expression within the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, together with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, stated that:

"The systematic nature of the violence demands not just specific individual measures but also ones of a structural nature. […] We urge the Mexican government to replace this paradigm of impunity with one of effective investigation, prosecution and monitoring consistent with its international obligations".

Association

The December 2017 Sur International Journal on Human Rights highlights the legal, administrative and financial challenges civil society organisations (CSOs) in Mexico face when trying to navigate international banking rules and regulations. In an effort to decrease money laundering and the financing of terrorism operations, governments and international financial institutions have instituted rules that have "also become an instrument for controlling and restraining CSOs". These rules have created a chilling effect, impacting CSO programming and increasing burdensome administration and bureaucracy. In some instances, Mexican CSOs are unable to open bank accounts or are refused other basic financial services, even though in 2016, the Mexican government "concluded that the risk of financing terrorism in the country is zero and the risk of money being laundered through CSOs is low". The Journal's report calls for more dialogue between CSOs and government institutions to better understand the impact of these rules on the sector.