Do Mexican Journalist Murders Undermine U.S. Drug War?

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A month ago, award-winning journalist Javier Valdez was pulled from his car and killed in broad daylight near his office in the Sinaloa state in Mexico. Valdez is the sixth journalist to be assassinated in Mexico this year, and his killing has sent new shockwaves of fear through the nation’s media, The Intercept reports. The journalists being targeted in Mexico have something in common: a commitment to documenting political corruption and state links to drug trafficking. Valdez’s assassination follows a pattern of murder directed at silencing the messengers who are digging up truth and exposing the underbelly of the drug war. Journalists who were close to Valdez suspect involvement of Sinaloa and federal authorities in the killing. There have been no arrests reported.

A week before Valdez’s murder, the Committee to Protect Journalists detailed prominent recent murders of journalists and failures in the prosecution of the crimes. The Mexican government’s human rights commission reported in 2016 that 90 percent of crimes against journalists go unpunished. Of the 114 murders of journalists that the Mexican government has recorded since 2000, a federal special prosecutor’s office for crimes against free speech has investigated 48 in the past seven years, resulting in only three sentences. In the face of inaction by the Mexican government, U.S. assistance to Mexico’s drug war has continued to flow, and to expand. Declassified State Department documents show that the U.S. has armed and funded Mexican military and police units despite being well aware of abuses and cover-ups. At the same time, the U.S. has supported projects supposedly aimed at strengthening the rule of law in Mexico, but none of it appears to be having the stated effect.

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