Drug-cartels kill journalists, says CPJ. But what about the Government?

Government forces are allegedly responsible for the lion’s share of attacks against journalists in the Mexico. That’s according to a report jointly produced by Article19, CENCOS and Fundacion Manuel Buendia (click here for the PDF) on press freedom in Mexico, reportedly the most dangerous country in the world for journalists after Iraq.
Speaking to MexicoReporter.com, Dario Ramirez, the head of Article 19’s programme in Mexico said that it suits the Mexican Government that there is a general perception that narco-traffickers and organized crime are the main causes for the record-high levels of violence against journalists in Mexico.
“Let’s not fool ourselves and say that the perpetrators of the violence are the groups of organized crime, as the government wants us to believe,” said Ramirez last month.
The latest research from the CPJ adheres to the theory that the drug trade carries the main responsibility for the high death toll of journalists in Mexico, and in a way, let’s the Mexican Government off the hook somewhat.
“A New Front in Mexico,” explains how drug-related reprisals against journalists, which have historically been largely confined to the northern states of Baja California, Chihuahua, and Tamaulipas, have spread further south to the central state of Michoacán.
The CPJ report explains the forces at work within the journalistic community in Mexico, where self-censorship is increasingly being used as a survival strategy by reporters covering organized crime networks and the drug trade.
That’s no doubt true, but the report doesn’t pay adequate attention to findings by other freedom of speech organisations which allege that state authorities remain the main perpetrators of the attacks, rather than organized crime networks.
The Authorities commit 42% of the attacks, with 24% carried out by police, 12% by government employees and 2% by government institutions, according to the Article 19 / CENCOS / Manuel Buendia study, with only 11 per cent of violence coming from drug cartels in the country. Although the Federal Government of Felipe Calderon is perceived to be taking a more hands-off approach to the press than his predecessors, the same cannot be said of State Governors.
There is little doubt that organized crime bears a huge responsibility for the high levels of violence against journalists in Mexico. But that’s only a small part of a much bigger picture that has to be understood if the problem is to be tackled effectively.
The drug cartels exist in a political, economic and cultural system in which corruption and poverty is rife, impunity almost certain and collusion between the authorities and criminal factions commonplace.
Until we look at the big picture, we don’t get much closer to really understanding how we might stem the force of this terrible trend.