A Mexican Journalist, scheduled to speak a conference by Newseum and Reporters Without Borders on the dangers of reporting in his country, is returning home after he was denied entry into the US.
“I am angry and disappointed that I was not able to attend the events with everyone in Washington D.C. this week,” Journalist Martin Mendez Pineda, 26, told Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
“Press Freedom: Lesson Learned From Around the World”, a panel discussion which took place Wednesday was organized by the Digital Content Next, Newseum, and RSF. Each panel speaker was selected to speak to attendees of the dangers reporters face in their national territories.
But when he arrived at the border in El Paso Sunday, Mendez was stopped by US Customs and Border Agents and not allowed to continue his mission. When asked why, officers replied the event was not important enough to merit his entry.
This isn’t the first difficulty Mendez has encountered at the U.S.-Mexican border. A former reporter for a Mexican publication called “Novedades Acapulco” in Guerrero, applied to the U.S. for asylum in February after receiving violent threats in connection to his work.
After waiting 60 days for approval and losing his job during his time in limbo at a detention center..
“I lost the only job I was able to find in Mexico, while remaining in hiding, in order to have the opportunity to attend these events, which would’ve allowed me to discuss the dangers journalists face throughout the world and which I currently face in Mexico right now,” Mendez said.
“We are saddened and quite frankly upset that Martin was not able to be with us in person for the meetings and events we had arranged for him this week,” Margaux Ewen, advocacy and communications director for RSF’s North America bureau, wrote in a RSF press release.
“Martin’s story is a harrowing one, and he most certainly deserved to tell it in person to those who could potentially offer a solution. The American people also deserve to know what has happened to him for shedding light on police violence and corruption in Mexico,” she said.
The Committee to Protect Journalists reported that at least 38 journalists have been killed in the country since 1992 for motives linked to their reporting, with another 50 murdered in the same time period for unclear reasons.
According to reports 99.7 percent of attacks on journalists go unpunished.
Journalists in Mexico face murder, intimidation, threats, kidnappings and harrassment.