On Tuesday, a day after Javier Valdez Cárdenas – who extensively covered drug cartels for La Jornada and Riodoce – was assassinated, reporters gathered at El Ángel de la Independencia to protest the wave of violence against journalists. With images of Valdez, Cecilia Pineda, Miroslava Breach, Yolanda Ordaz, Gregorio Jiménez, and many other late journalists, the group of about 30 denounced the growing threat members of the Mexican media face, according to El Universal. Even in an overhead shot, it was clear what they were protesting. In large white letters, they wrote: “En México, #NosEstánMatando” and “No Al Silencio.” Online, journalists also protested in just as striking a manner: they went completely dark.
According to the Los Angeles Times, several Mexican publications participated in #UnDíaSinPeriodismo on Tuesday. “In Mexico, journalists are killed because they can be, because nothing happens,” read Animal Politico’s homepage. It only published a black page with images of the journalists killed this year. And as Animal Politico and other publications took a stance, many learned that gunmen targeted and wounded Semanario Costeño executive Sonia Cordova. Her 26-year-old son was killed.
The National Human Rights Commission reports that the number of journalists killed since 2000 stands at about 125. Just this year, at least six journalists have become a casualty of the industry – which is currently on pace to top last year’s number of 11. Fighting the drug war has come at the expense of Mexicans, as well as the journalists who bravely investigated and reported on the cartels. Last year, Valdez published a book about the dangers of narco-journalism. After the death of Breach– the third Mexican journalist killed in 2017, he tweeted: “Kill us all, if that is the sentence for reporting on this hell. No to silence.”
Alejandro Sicairos, a co-founder of the Riodoce paper where Valdez worked, said that organized crime is undoubtedly behind the journalist’s death. “We don’t know who ordered it and who carried it out, but we do know that organized crime is directly responsible for this,” Sicairos said, according to the LAT.
Valdez focused on cartel violence in Sinaloa. Following Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s extradition to the United States, his sons have fought for control of the Sinaloa drug cartel, making it increasingly more dangerous. “There is unstoppable violence in Sinaloa,” Sicarios said. “Journalism is in the middle of this crossfire.”
On Twitter, #UnDíaSinPeriodismo became a place for people to share statistics about the death toll and call out the government for its continued inaction in the face of this epidemic: