While journalists in the United States face, at most, of libel suits and the occasional blast of tear gas and pepper spray while covering demonstrations, Mexican journalists face another kind of threat, summarized by the phrase plata o plomo, silver or lead.
In other words, either take the wealth and career advancement that comes with playing along with corruption, or receive the lead, a fatal bullet.
Just how real is the threat?
From teleSUR English:
Journalists are being hunted down and killed for their work in Mexico.
Since 2000, 219 journalists have been murdered, including 12 women, while another 20 have disappeared and at least 50 media offices have suffered some type of attack, the National Commission of Human Rights, or CNDH, said Thursday.
“The increase in attacks on journalists and media in the country and the almost total impunity that persist in these cases prevent the full exercise of freedom of expression and democratic consolidation of Mexico,” the CNDH said.
The body also warned that this situation restricts society’s right to have the necessary information that leads to the free decision-making process and as a free press is essential for a democratic society.
Other studies also highlight the dire situation for journalists, like a recent one released by press rights organization Article 19 that said attacks on members of the press took place approximately every 22 hours.
Earlier this year a group of journalists opened the House of Rights of Journalists, a shelter for colleagues facing threats due to their work.
The initiative followed the case of Ruben Espinosa, which brought the world’s attention to the grave dangers faced by journalists in Mexico. Espinoza was murdered in Mexico City, where journalists from other states often hide, raising fears that no place in Mexico is safe.