Foreign Policy Blogs

The Mexico Problem

Journalists in Mexico are facing an increasingly hostile environment.

On Sunday, 13 journalists on a tour in the state of Michoacan were kidnapped at machete point by Nahua Indians. They had been mistaken for a crew in the area to film a beer commercial, and were released, but their equipment was confiscated.

According to the AP report, the kidnapping was not an isolated incident:

Passions run high over territorial issues in rural pockets of Mexico, particularly in indigenous communities. Last month, gunmen opened fire on a group of European and Mexican rights activists, journalists and teachers union representatives who were attempting to reach a Triqui Indian village in central Mexico besieged by rival political factions. Two activists from Finland and Mexico were killed.

In addition to several incidents in which journalists were harassed, threatened, kidnapped, and attacked, they are also facing harassment from the federal government. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the following cases have happened in recent months:

  • On February 18, federal police attacked Hugo Alfredo Olivera Cartas, reporter with the Morelia-based daily La Voz de Michoacán, on his way to cover a shooting in Chiquihuitillo, Michoacán state, according to Cambio de Michoacán. Police pushed Olivera to the floor and beat him, according to the paper. Olivera filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission.
  • Military personnel harassed Angel Cervantes, a photojournalist with television station Channel 44 in Ciudad Juárez, as he covered the arrest of alleged criminals in late March, Cervantes told CPJ. Cervantes, who recorded the incident, posted a video on YouTube that was also aired on Channel 44 taken while army officials were trying to seize his camera and detain him. Channel 44 reported the incident to the Secretariat of National Defense, which said it will investigate the case.
  • On April 2, two military officials tried to seize the camera of a photojournalist working for the daily El Mexicano as he was taking pictures of a boat being towed in Villa Ahumada, Chihuahua State, according to the Mexican press group Center for Journalism and Public Ethics, or CEPET. Soldiers threatened to arrest the reporter after he refused to release the camera, CEPET said. The reporter—whose name was withheld for security reasons—filed a complaint with the Chihuahua Human Rights Commission.
  • CEPET also reported that army officials seized the camera of a photojournalist who requested anonymity for security reasons working for the newspaper El Heraldo de Chihuahua and deleted all the photographs. The reporter was taking pictures during a military search in San Francisco de Choncos, northern Mexico, CEPET said. El Heraldo de Chihuahua reported the incident to the chief of the military zone in Chihuahua.
  • Luz del Carmen Sosa, a crime reporter with the Ciudad Juarez-based daily El Diario, and photojournalist Mario Bañuelos were harassed by soldiers on May 6 while covering the disappearance of three public employees in the town of El Porvenir, Chihuahua state, Sosa told CPJ. Army officials pointed their guns at Bañuelos, tried to grab his camera, and threatened both reporters with detention, Sosa said. The journalists filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission.


Genevieve Belmaker

Genevieve Belmaker is a freelance journalist and contributing editor with The Epoch Times ( She also contributes to Quill, the magazine of the Society of Professional Journalists and Her blog on journalism is

Genevieve has traveled throughout the U.S., Asia, Central America, Israel and the West Bank for reporting assignments, including major investigative reports on the recovery of New Orleans, the encroaching presence of China in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, the dangerous import of melamine-contaminated milk into the U.S. and settlement outposts in the West Bank. She regularly reports on issues related to journalism, and the work of journalists.

She holds a BA from the University of Southern California in International Relations, and has been a member of several prominent national and international professional media organizations, including the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the International Women’s Media Foundation, the New York Press Club, and the Newswomen’s Club of New York. She lives in Jerusalem, Israel with her husband and son.

Areas of Focus:
New Media; Journalism; Culture and Society