Mexican journalist in Barcelona speaks out despite threats
Yanely Fuentes, currently in Catalan capital as part of 'Barcelona protects Mexican journalists' program, also participated in 'Cities defending humans rights'
Mexican journalist Yanely Fuentes, who works for the Diario Alternativo newspaper from the Costa Chica region of the state of Guerrero, is used to receiving threats from people unhappy with her work, but even that hasn’t stopped her from reporting on marginalized communities.
Fuentes, who is currently in the Catalan capital as part of the 'Barcelona protects Mexican journalists' program organized by the city council and Taula per Mèxic and who also participated in 'Cities defending humans rights', spoke to Catalan News about the situation in her home country: "Journalism in Mexico has been hit badly."
According to Reporters Without Borders, Mexico is "Latin America’s most dangerous country for reporters," a statement that Fuentes has confirmed by describing how journalists - as well as human rights defenders - frequently find themselves under threat in a country that has seen 10 journalists murdered in 2019 to date.
"We face persecution from community police groups, from armed groups, as well as persecution from the government. They corner us, leading, unfortunately, to silence - to silence some areas."
Yanely Fuentes · Diario Alternativo journalist
Fuentes herself has experienced persecution: in 2017, members of the Unión de Pueblos y Organizaciones del Estado de Guerrero community police - a so-called 'autodefensa' group - began to try to intimidate her and in 2018 they physically attacked her while she was filming one of their events.
The group then waged a smear campaign against her and Diario Alternativo and went as far as attacking her family’s farm, forcing her to leave home for her safety for 5 months before finally returning for financial reasons.
In Barcelona, Fuentes has been "working on political advocacy and spreading awareness about the situation faced by journalists in Mexico as well as participating in activities" including talks, some even with schoolchildren.
As for whether people in Catalonia are aware of what goes on in Mexico, Fuentes believes that there is a lot that is not known or understood: "If there is a program to temporarily host at-risk journalists and there are these awareness spreading events, Barcelona is recognizing the true violence that we have in Mexico."