Mexico: Five journalists assaulted during the “A Light in the Dark” festival

ARTICLE 19 documented five assaults on journalists during preparations for the “A Light in the Dark” festival held on Sunday 14 December in Guerrero.

These were as follows:

  • Ángel Huerta, from Radio Zapote. According to witnesses, at around 4 a.m. a group of non-uniformed federal police arrived in Caballito where the students and journalist were making the final preparations for the festival in Ayotzinapa. Huerta recalls that the police officers were in a taxi and wanted to drive through the barriers being erected for the event. They were refused passage and so they began to physically and verbally assault the group, which was nearby. Another 30 or so police officers then arrived, and physically assaulted Huerta and the event organisers. According to the journalist, one of the police threats was that they would be “disappeared”.
  • Carlos Ogaz from Regeneración Radio and Alejandrino González Reyes, an Associated Press worker. The journalists both suffered injuries when a white pick-up truck, driven by an unidentified person, ran into a group of federal police officers. The two journalists state that the truck did not hit them directly but passed very close by, causing them injury. As a result, Ogaz’s photographic equipment was destroyed and his left arm broken, requiring surgery. González Reyes suffered minor injury to his chest and has been discharged, although he is still recovering.
  • Jorge Dan, Reuters photographer. The photojournalist was assaulted by a member of the federal police as he was trying to escape the tear gas being thrown. Dan states that a police officer hit him on his left arm, despite the fact that he told them he was a member of the press and was carrying ID.
  • Ernestro Cruz, employed by the Revolución 3.0 portal. The journalist was injured by a tear gas canister fired by the federal police, which fractured his jaw and left a deep gash on his cheek. Staff from Revolución 3.0 confirmed that Cruz had been taken to hospital and was undergoing emergency surgery.

ARTICLE 19 considers it unacceptable that the federal police force continues to commit violations  against journalists and protestors who are supporting the Ayotzinapa movement. Two months into the protests at the disappearance of the Guerrero students and the state and federal security forces still have no protocols in place to guarantee the public right to protest in search of truth, justice and freedom of expression. On the contrary, there are indications that these bodies are actually acting to prevent these rights, putting the lives of both demonstrators and journalists at risk.

The public indignation that has arisen in Mexico over the last few weeks is a clear and legitimate exercise of the rights and freedoms enshrined both in the Political Constitution and in different international human rights instruments ratified by Mexico, and any action to repress these rights is therefore an attack on democracy itself.

Update: As of 16 December, the Guerrero and Federal District public health systems have refused to provide journalists Carlos Ogaz and Ernesto Cruz with medical attention.