A regional daily newspaper based in Ciudad Juárez, one of whose correspondents was murdered 10 days ago, has ceased publication due to insecurity.
The last edition of Norte, published yesterday, carried a simple but bold headline that said “Adiós!” under which appeared a letter from owner Óscar A. Cantú Murguía, who explained his reasons for putting an end to the 27-year-old publication, whose circulation was about 30,000.
“I have made the decision to close this newspaper due to the fact that, among other things, there are neither the guarantees nor the security to exercise critical, counterbalance journalism . . . . This copy that you have in your hands will be the last edition that Norte of Ciudad Juárez publishes.”
Cantú Murguía wrote “the tragic and heartfelt death of Miroslava Breach Velducea, a contributor to our newspaper, has made me reflect about the adverse conditions under which the practice of journalism currently takes place. High risk is the main ingredient.”
He continued, “Fatal attacks as well as impunity are evidence that we are prevented from freely carrying out our work.”
Breach Velducea, who was also Chihuahua correspondent for the newspaper La Jornada, was gunned down in her car outside her home in the state capital on March 23. A message left at the scene said, “For being a snitch.”
Three journalists were killed in Mexico in March, making it a particularly bloody month for the profession.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Cantú stated, “For me, a free press is a pillar of democracy. If I can no longer do the type of journalism I want to do, I cannot accept it anymore. Enough.”
He added, “ It is an act of protest, it is my way of protesting with silence.” Cantú hopes to help the estimated 150 people who will lose their jobs to find new employment.
In addition to the security concerns, Cantú also cited financial reasons for the paper’s closure, saying all three levels of government left unpaid debts. Government advertising was an important source of revenue for the paper.
Cantú thanked the paper’s readers and advertisers and stated that he was satisfied that he had created hundreds of jobs in the border region and provided experience for people who have gone on to successful careers in both the public and private sectors.
“We fought against the tide, receiving an onslaught of attacks from individuals and governments for exposing their bad practices and acts of corruption which were detrimental to our city and its inhabitants,” Cantú said.
“I fulfilled my duty as a human being and as a citizen as I thought fit to do so and with conviction and love for my city,” he said. Cantú vowed to fight on “from other trenches” but said “everything in life has a beginning and an end and a price to pay. If that price is life, I’m not willing to pay it with the life of one of my collaborators or my own.”
It is expected that the newspaper’s digital site will also soon close.
One hundred and four journalists were killed in Mexico between 2000 and 2016.