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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Chronicle of a historic protest of Mexican journalists



The following account is a testimony from Marcela Turati, of the Red de Periodistas de a Pie (On-the-ground Journalists Network), one of the organizers of the unprecedented demonstrations in Mexico protesting the violence against journalists.

Her account in Spanish is organized into three parts:

* The march in Mexico City

* The protests in other cities

* Voices of journalists

What follows are excerpts translated into English. See here for the full version in Spanish.

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I want to share with you the importance of Saturday, Aug. 7, a historic day in Mexico, because we journalists took to the streets to demonstrate in the capital and in 10 cities of the country to demand an end to attacks against the profession and impunity, all with the same cry: “Not one more.”



 THE MARCH IN MEXICO CITY

The capital movement began in the afternoon in the gazebo of the Angel of Independence with the roll call of the 64 journalists killed and 12 disappeared in a decade, and the request for silence in the name of these journalists.

Although the march was going to be silent, we reporters showed that we don't know how to keep quiet and soon the walk became a celebration where we all recognized each other as peers, as the crew of the same ship, all with the same outrage at what we are experiencing and the difficult situation that so many like us are living.

The idea for the movement came from a conversation between a couple of journalists on Facebook following the hostage taking of four journalists covering the prison protest in Durango. The cathartic conversation soon included more members who joined the proposal to organize a march, and then other reporters joined the initiative by email.

The movement was successful thanks to the support from the social networks -- mainly Twitter and Facebook — because we all knew beforehand that many others like us were also going to attend and every day we confirmed our attendance.

The march included reporters from various states, foreign correspondents, families of journalists, a lot of anonymous citizens -- from peasants in Xochimilco and students opposed to the security strategy to professionals concerned about the silencing of the press -- some government officials and press managers, in addition to members of human rights organizations that felt the need to wrap up the contingent, wanting to return the favor for the coverage journalists always have given to their activities.



ARMED WITH NOTEBOOKS AND PENS

Some reporters -- whether those who covered sports or indigenous issues or police -- told stories on the walk of threats they had suffered from drug traffickers, local politicians, political bosses, police, business owners, and paramilitaries, and the fear that stays with them.

During the march we began to get messages from colleagues in Chiapas, Oaxaca, Juarez, Tijuana, Hermosillo, and Torreon, asking how it was going over here, or reporting how they were doing in their states. Some days before they had sent emails to say they were joining the initiative, to share the death threats they have received, and to denounce the silence in which they live.

The most emotional moment, which put lumps in our throats, was when the contingent arrived at the Ministry of the Interior, where we placed a banner with the names of the fallen, spread out on the floor photos of journalists that we miss, and placed red stains with with our job tools -- typewriters, cameras, notebooks -- and a cross.

Then came the roll call of the names of the absent, and the journalists began to chant, with a profound indignation rising from the depths of impotence: "Not one more, not one more, not one more..." And then silence followed this cry.

There was nothing more to say.



 FROM THE STATES

We were finding out via cell phone messages that at the same time in Oaxaca City 100 reporters were protesting in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral with signs that said "Stop the violence against journalists," "Not one more attack against journalists," and "In Oaxaca we want live journalists." (In this state two indigenous journalists were killed in 2008, recently a correspondent was shot in the capital while covering a march, another correspondent was kidnapped and forced into exile, and a photographer was killed.)



 VOICES WITHOUT LETTERHEADS

The street opened a place for voices, such as the following:

* "When the march started I began to cry. I have 17 years of being a soldier like everyone, it's exciting to do something together, do something because reporters from the states always have been nobodies, working unprotected, no one uses a shield, so it's good for them to be made visible, to talk about them" (Cecilia Gonzalez, a correspondent).

The hope is still reflected in the social networks, the email messages that we receive, in columns that newspapers continue to publish about the role of the press in these moments.

And since Saturday what we all have been thinking is: What's next?

By Marcela Turati



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