dead with faces

“What a wild custom this is of burying the dead!”

Jaime Sabines

“He was a tall and smiling young man. I never imagined that he would end up wrapped in plastic lying on a dirt road on his own land.” This is how Elena Poniatowska writes about Luis Enrique Ramírez, the Sinaloan columnist who “became the star reporter of the Culture section of La Jornada and endeared himself to his colleagues. Now, in 2022, he turns out to be the ninth reporter assassinated this year in Mexico.

The remembrance is important because it gives Luis Enrique a face. No, he should not be seen simply as one more victim of this violence that has been unleashed against journalists in our country. No human being should be turned into a statistic. That is why it is important to remember him as that restless and smiling journalist who “fell on the writer Elena Garro”.

In Mexico, however, it is difficult to reconstruct all the faces, the passions, the illusions of the dead. There are so many that we run the risk of burying them without stopping for a moment to remember them. Just a few days after Ramírez’s death, we came across the images of two women gunned down in a car in Cosoleacaque, Veracruz, Yesenia Mollinedo, director of the El Veraz portal, and reporter Sheila Johana García. I do not know her work, although Yesenia’s brother says that she was threatened to prevent her from continuing her investigations into the corruption of the state police, but their intense feminine faces look at us from the photographs that have circulated since her murder and force us to think in them as people, not as mere numbers.

The faces, however, crowd. Just this year there are those of Lourdes Maldonado and Margarito Martínez from Tijuana, Heber López from Salina Cruz, Juan Carlos Muñiz from Fresnillo, Jorge Camero Zazueta from Empalme, Roberto Toledo from Zitácuaro, José Luis Gamboa from Veracruz, Armando Linares also from Zitácuaro, in addition to those of Luis Enrique, Yesenia and Sheila Johana. They are 11 so far this year. In all of 2021 there were seven. According to reports from the Ministry of the Interior itself, 252 journalists were killed with violence from December 2006 to March 8, 2022. Article 19 says that 36 journalists have been killed so far this six-year term, although it is still trying to certify that some cases have been a consequence of their journalistic work.

The violence in Mexico does not only affect journalists. We are still trying to assimilate the deaths of Debanhi Escobar and Yolanda Martínez in the current cruel wave of violence against women. In 2021, the country registered 33,308 intentional homicides, 91 each day. We had 26 intentional homicides for every 100 thousand inhabitants; Spain, registered 0.63 in 2020.

Journalists should not have special consideration. We are human beings like any other. I am told that more taxi drivers than journalists are killed each year in Mexico. Maybe I don’t know the numbers. But the murders of journalists have a negative multiplier effect by silencing information about the uses and abuses of the powerful and criminals.

We cannot accept the normalization of the murder of journalists, women or any human being. The main responsibility of the State is to guarantee security. The main failure of this government, and of the two previous ones, lies in insecurity and violence. Faced with this reality, it is essential to remember that each of those murdered was a person with a face, with loved ones, with dreams of life.

Without paying

The head of government Claudia Sheinbaum says that she has not paid the final opinion of the Norwegian company DNV on the tragedy of Line 12 of the capital’s Metro. In New Mexico, independent expert reports are only paid if they support the points of view of the person who orders them.

@SergioSarmiento

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