In Mexico, A Fight Over Press Freedom

Mar 17, 2015
Originally published on March 17, 2015 7:25 am
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And a controversy is swelling in Mexico over press freedoms. That's after one of the country's most famous investigative journalists was fired from her radio show. She's known for targeting some of Mexico's top public figures. NPR's Carrie Kahn has more.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Listeners tuning in to Carmen Aristegui's popular morning drive radio program heard this ominous message Monday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "MVS Radio does not accept Carmen Aristegui's ultimatum." Aristegui demanded that two reporters in her investigative team fired by the station last week be reinstated. This is the same reporting team that late last year uncovered a favorable real estate deal between Mexico's first lady and a contractor that won a multi-billion-dollar infrastructure deal.

The president denied any wrongdoing, but the scandal, along with another conflict of interest discovery involving the country's finance minister, has tarnished the president's reputation and sent his popularity plummeting. Aristegui, well-known for not mincing words, says the firings were the result of political pressure. Speaking to a small group of supporters outside the MVS studios in Mexico City Monday, Aristegui said her investigative team won't be intimidated by the storm of authoritarianism engulfing the country.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CARMEN ARISTEGUI: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "We're going to fight for freedom of expression," says Aristegui. According to MVS, the reporters were fired because of misuse of the corporate logo and resources when they joined ranks with several other journalists last week to launch a new investigative Internet site called Mexico Leaks. But prominent journalists, analysts and historians, even those who weren't fans of Aristegui's brash style, see something nefarious in the firings coming soon after the conflict of interest revelations. Jorge Ramos is the lead anchor on the U.S. Hispanic network Univision.

JORGE RAMOS: It's exactly the same old Mexico - the one I left in the 1980s. I can't believe that there's still censorship in Mexico.

KAHN: MVS Communications' own ombudsman tweeted Sunday night saying the firings were disproportionate, and this is a sad night for journalism and freedom of expression. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.