From the beginning of the year until September, 10 journalists have been killed in Mexico. According to Reporters Without Borders, the country is one of the deadliest in the world for people engaged in communication. For the voices reporting on widespread corruption and human rights violations in the country, attacks, disappearances and forced displacements are a near reality.
It is in this context that journalist Yanely Fuentes works. He has been writing since 2014 for Diario Alternativo, a publication that offers local and regional information from the State of Guerrero. According to the NGO Article 19, Guerrero can be considered “a silent area for the press”, and it is one of the states where there is the highest number of attacks on journalists. Guerrero is a territory with very weak institutions and a high presence of organised crime.
In 2017, Fuentes began to cover mobilizations and social conflicts, especially related to the armed group Unión de Pueblos y Organizaciones el Estado de Guerrero (UPOEG). She has since reported on human rights violations committed by Community police and citizen police.
“That’s what we have in the region,” she explains.
Her journalistic work has led to serious threats and aggression. In March 2017, UPOEG members and advisers threatened her, and in January 2018, when she was recording an organization event, she was physically assaulted. After the attack, intimidation and threats increased, and his family’s farm was attacked. The UPOEG launched a discredit campaign against her and her media. Eventually, the increased pressure forced her to leave her home for five months, but she had to return to work to support herself economically.
Currently, Fuentes is in Barcelona, hosted within the framework of the municipal program “Barcelona protects journalists from Mexico”. This programme, carried out in alliance with La Taula per Mexico, aims to facilitate the temporary stay in the Catalan capital of journalists who are at risk as a result of the exercise of their profession.
What is the Union of Pueblos and Organizations of the Estado de Guerrero (UPOEG)?
It is an armed group that calls itself the “citizen police” and operates, out of legality, on 80% of the Costa Chica de Guerrero. It is characterized by levantones [segrestos i desaparicions], extortions and executions.
Where do the threats to press freedom in Guerrero come from?
Government officials, armed groups and drug trafficking groups, which are in control of the citizens’ police, and the Community police.
At the end of last year, the mandate of Andrés Manuel López Obrador began. What expectations does this new context have for the safety of journalists?
We expect an increase in aggression. The President of the Republic himself has attacked us with the messages against the freedom of the press that he sends from his[conferències de premsa diàries][day press conferences], from where he has described as a “fifi” press that has been critical of his government.
Are there differences between the violence suffered by women and male journalists?
Yes. In the case of women, their research work is invisible, and attention is therefore diverted from the actual reasons for the aggression they suffer.
What can we do here to support the defence of human rights in Guerrero?
It must be made clear that Guerrero is a state where rights-enforcement projects as noble as the Community police have been used to serve impunity. It is a state that defends its rights and uses the citizen police as an armed wing to position drug trafficking cartels in different regions.
Do you currently have any projects in hand that you would like to share?
Over time, she wanted to promote a digital portal to report from a feminist perspective to the more patriarchal regions of the State of Guerrero.