A newspaper in the Mexican border city of Juarez announced Sunday that it is shutting down because the rampant, unpunished killings of journalists in the country have made it too dangerous to go on. Norte executive Oscar Cantu Murguia informed readers of his decision in a farewell letter titled “Adios!” that was published on the paper’s front page and online.
He cited the recent murder of journalist Miroslava Breach in the city of Chihuahua, which like Juarez is in Chihuahua state. Breach was a reporter for the national newspaper La Jornada and had also collaborated with Norte.
“On this day, esteemed reader, I address you to report that I have made the decision to close this newspaper due to the fact that, among other things, there are neither the guarantees nor the security to exercise critical, counterbalance journalism,” Cantu wrote.
“Everything in life has a beginning and an end, a price to pay,” he continued. “And if this is life, I am not prepared for any more of my collaborators to pay it, nor with my own person.”
Cantu also mentioned ambiguous financial concerns that he blamed on authorities: “the arrogant refusal to pay debts contracted for the provision of services.” In Mexico, government advertising is a major source of revenue for many news outlets, and media critics say reliance on that often leads to tame coverage and self-censorship.
At least 38 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 1992 for motives confirmed as related to their work, according the Committee to Protect Journalists. The New York-based media advocacy group says 50 more were slain during the same period for reasons that remain unclear.
“Mexico is clearly going through a deep, full-blown freedom of expression crisis,” said Carlos Lauria, senior program coordinator for the Americas at CPJ. “It’s affecting Mexicans, not only journalists, because the fact that a newspaper closes is depriving people of information that they need in order to take informed decisions.”
The country saw a spate of attacks on journalists in March. In addition to Breach, who was gunned down as she left home March 23, two other journalists were killed in Guerrero and Veracruz, both states that are hotspots of drug cartel violence. Another journalist was shot in Poza Rica, Veracruz, March 29, leaving him in critical condition. And an armed attack on a journalist in San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, left his bodyguard dead.