The news surrounding the Charlie Hebdo massacre has sent shocks throughout most of the world. On January 7th, 2015 masked gunman, dressed in black and armed with assault rifles entered the offices of Charlie Hebdo and murdered a total of 12 reporters including 8 journalists. The attacks have been a tragedy for France and for the greater Jewish community. In response, the world embraced the Twitter hashtags #JeSuisCharlie and #IamCharlie to stand up for freedom of expression and journalist freedom.
However, the global response has been ineffective and inconsistent, ignoring what are daily attacks on journalistic freedom in the developing world.
On the other side of the Atlantic, there was another recent tragic incident in Reynosa, Mexico where a Twitter user was brutally murdered for simply reporting violent incidents and encouraging people to file police reports. In 2012, Mexican journalist Regina Martinez was beaten and murdered in her home in Xalapa, Veracruz. Since the start of the investigation, there have been inconsistencies in the investigation and her killer still remains at large.
While the world wants to believe these are uncommon events, the were not. In 2014 from January to September there were 222 documented journalistic aggressions in Mexico.
In Mexico, simply reporting the news is one of the most dangerous jobs one can have. The Committee to Protect Journalists lists 31 confirmed journalistic murders and 45 unconfirmed murders since 1993. Crowdsourced Wikipedia lists 135 journalists killed either for political or crime related reasons since the Drug War began in 2007. Three Mexican journalists have already been murdered since the start of 2015, and it is statistically likely that it will drastically increase as the year progresses.
Mexicans are not afforded the right to protest, a contrast to our First Amendment guarantee. On September 26 of last year, 43 students from the Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Teacher’s College of Ayotzniapa went missing in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico. The students were on their way to protest the Igaula Mayor’s wife’s conference. The local police intercepted their buses and allegedly handed them over to the local Guerreros Unidos crime syndicate. The students have still not been found. There have been reports of remains discovered, but investigators could only confirm the DNA of one student.
The Tragedy of Iguala reveals how deep the Cartels have made into government. The Mayor and his wife had connections to the Guerreros Unidos, and the police chief was the one that allegedly gave the students up to the crime syndicates.
The cartels continue to be a huge influence on the high levels of corruption and violence in Mexico. As an example, the cartels have reportedly began moving into illegal mining after cementing their control over Michoacan. The attorney general’s office reported that the cartels shipped 1.1 million tons of illegally mined Iron Ore to China. In interviews, president of the National Chamber of Iron and Steel Alonso Ancira estimated that the drug cartels earned $1 billion in profits from selling iron ore. The Knights Templar, the cartel that essentially controls the state of Michoacan, is known as the key exporter of iron. The most troubling aspect about the increase in illegal mining activity is the lack of government control that is needed for it to occur. Mining is capital intensive and implies control of customs, police, workers, and ports.
Transparency International ranks Mexico as the most corrupt OECD Country and gave it a rank of 103 out of 175 countries of corruption within their public sector. In contrast, France ranks 26 out of 175 in the Corruption Perceptions Index. Mexico’s situation is severe. In Cuidad Juarez, there were 11,000 people killed from 2007 to 2013 with majority related to cartel violence.
The US public has been particularly inconsistent in ignoring the immense number of journalist murders in Mexico. Mexico continually faces Narco-Terrorism financed by America’s desire for drugs and the US and Mexico’s joint War on Drugs.
It’s tragic that the US public and most of the world does not seem to care about the violations of freedom of expression and journalist murders that occur in other parts of the world. The massacre at Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters and in the kosher markets were a hideous act that understandably shook the developed world, but the complete devotion of the media and governments towards the Paris attacks highlights the differences in reporting the two stories.
The world responded with complete support of Paris and of the importance of Journalist Freedom. There was a 3.7 Million March in Paris with World Leaders and constant reporting from CNN and all mainstream press. In contrast, Mexico did not receive nearly the same level of outrage from the world community. Most of the world did not know 3 Mexican journalist killed in the first week of 2015. Around the world, tragedies in wealthy countries are the only ones that receive the coverage and complete sympathy of the public.