On 25 November, Maite Azuela, an El Universal columnist, received a death threat in the post at her home in Mexico City.
On that day, the columnist got home at about 5pm and found a yellow envelope addressed to her, with no indication of the sender on it. Inside the envelope there was a photo of her El Universal profile with death threats and insults scrawled on it.
Maite Azuela combines her work as a journalist with activism, normally related to the topics she writes about. Her articles focus on political rights and violations of human rights, and most recently on events connected with the Army led by General Salvador Cienfuegos and with the State Government of Puebla led by Rafael Moreno Valle.
The threat made against Azuela comes on top of other incidents in recent years, such as the one in May 2014 when Federal Police officers carrying high-calibre firearms tried to enter the journalist’s apartment “following a suspicious call”, without having a search warrant or leaving a crime report number.
Azuela contacted the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE in Spanish) and the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Journalists and Human Rights Defenders, despite her lack of trust in the institutions.
“I reported these attacks and threats to every government body despite my deep mistrust of them. I wanted there to be a record of what happened. Having dealt with all the formalities, I understand what journalists and defenders go through when exposing their vulnerability to people who probably work for those making the threats instead of for those who fall victim to them. If we ask for a protection mechanism and prosecutor’s office, then the least I can do is turn to them despite the institutional weakness they still have,” said the journalist in an interview with ARTICLE 19.
ARTICLE 19 reiterates that the authorities must act in accordance with the highest standards on the matter, such as those set out in the Joint Declaration on Crimes against Freedom of Expression. This Declaration provides that States must take special protection measures; ensure independent, speedy and effective investigations; and ensure appropriate remedies.
ARTICLE 19 demands a prompt investigation by the authorities into the events that have taken place, giving priority to the line of investigation connected with Maite Azuela’s work as a journalist. ARTICLE 19 also urges the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Journalists and Human Rights Defenders to take the necessary action to safeguard the physical integrity of the journalist and her family members.