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Journalists Celebrate Freedom of Expression Day in Mexico

-Editorial

Journalists and communicators from Mexicali gathered to commemorate Freedom of Expression Day in Mexico, a date established on June 7, 1951, by newspaper editors and then-President of the Republic, Miguel Alemán Valdés. This celebration highlights the importance of a free and independent press as a fundamental pillar of Mexican democracy.

As part of the annual celebration of Freedom of Expression, Eva Velasco, a journalist from Mexicali, delivered a speech on behalf of the directors of the region’s journalist organizations. From the Francisco Zarco Mateos monument, Velasco emphasized the importance of Freedom of Expression and the Right to Information, fundamental pillars for an informed and democratic society.

“As journalists and communicators, we have the responsibility to deliver information from where it is produced to the final consumer, whether it be the reader, the listener, or the audience on cyber networks. We are obligated to do so with professionalism, always adhering to the truth,” Velasco declared before her colleagues.

This year’s commemoration coincided with a crucial moment for Mexican politics: the electoral process. Journalists in Mexicali played an essential role in informing society about each stage of the campaigns and last Sunday’s election day. Velasco highlighted the professionalism of reporters, cameramen, and communicators who, despite political and governmental pressures, maintained their commitment to truth and transparency.

However, Velasco also called for reflection on the challenges facing journalism in Mexico. She lamented the persistent violence against journalists and communicators, recalling the numerous murders that have remained unpunished since 1983. “Mexico continues to be the second most dangerous country in the world to practice journalism,” she stated, citing alarming statistics from the Federation of Mexican Journalists Associations (FAPERMEX).

During President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration, 79 people related to the press have been murdered, including 58 journalists. Since the year 2000, the total amounted to 315 murders. These figures highlight the urgent need for protection and justice for communicators in the country.

“Given this reality, the media must remain vigilant in ensuring the fulfillment of political commitments and continue exercising their freedom of expression to confront and propose solutions to the most pressing societal problems,” Velasco concluded.

The speech was a reminder that without freedom of the press and expression, there is no democracy or nation. In Baja California, the fight for justice for murdered journalists, such as Margarito Martínez Esquivel and Lourdes Maldonado, remains ongoing. The journalistic community of Mexicali stands firm in its commitment to defending these fundamental rights, vital for the coexistence and democratic development of the country.

Pedro Ariel Mendivil, Director of Public Safety of Mexicali, spoke at the event and stated that they maintain close communication with the local media industry and are in constant contact to respond to any situation where journalists are in danger or fear for their safety.

“It is our responsibility to protect the voice of the people and society that keeps us informed. Without freedom of expression, there is no democracy,” Mendivil said.

Freedom of expression, enshrined in Articles 6 and 7 of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States and Article 19 of the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights, is a basic human right. It is inherent to human nature and essential for any democratic regime. The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) has repeatedly emphasized that this right must be exercised under safe conditions, facilitating the work of journalists and media without fear of reprisals.

The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the strength of fundamental rights globally, including freedom of expression. Many governments have implemented anti-disinformation laws that, in some cases, do not respect international human rights standards. UNESCO has issued guidelines for judges and courts, highlighting the need to balance restrictive measures with the protection of the right to freedom of expression.

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