Over 170 journalists request official protection in Mexico

There have been 41 requests for federal protection this year
Indalecio Benítez is the founder of a community radio station in Luvianos, State of Mexico. After an attack in which his son died, he has been receiving protection of the Interior Ministry (Photo: Germán Espinosa/EL UNIVERSAL)
Elena Michel
Mexico City
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"Are you alright," asked Indalecio to his four children. Diego, the oldest at 12 years of age, did not reply. He received a portion of the bullets destined to his father, founder of a community radio station in the municipality of Luvianos, State of Mexico.

Indalecio Benítez received no threats prior to the attack on August 2 2014, but the programming on the radio station included a news magazine in which he denounced the abuses of the police officers from the State of Mexico and the activities of organized crime. Luvianos, his native land, known as "The Triangle of the Gaps," separates the State of Mexico from Michoacán and Guerrero.

On returning home after dinner that night, he saw hooded men exit the property: "I told my kids, 'get down, we are going to be under attack.'  And the three that were in the back bowed. I sped up the car and I heard gunfire.

"Once we got to the Marina one of my children said: 'Dad, Dieguito fainted.' I grabbed him and I realized that he was dead," he recalls.

After the burial of his son, Indalecio and his family took refuge in Mexico City. They sought help from various non-governmental organizations and then got the protection of the Ministry of the Interior (Segob).  He is one of five journalists who lives "in exile" and under the coverage of the so-called Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, operated by the federal agency.

From 2012 to date, the Interior Ministry has attended 172 requests from journalists to obtain such protection. So far this year 41 were enrolled to the mechanism.

The most recent report of the mechanism shows that there are five journalists with their families who migrated from their home states to Mexico City. Of the five, two come from Veracruz, one from the State of Mexico; another one from Guerrero and one more from Baja California.

However, the majority of the reporters decide not to request the help of the Interior Ministry and only report their cases to the various NGOS or complain before the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) or to the local agencies.

Data related to the CNDH Public General Recommendation No. 20 On Grievances Against Journalists In Mexico indicates that the attacks against this guild increased by 700% between 2000 and 2013, going from 13 to 98 cases documented by this agency. The situation is complicated by an impunity index of 81% in those cases.

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