Mexico City, Mexico | AFP | The UN and AFP launched an award Thursday to honor journalists who risk their lives to cover human rights abuses in Mexico, in tribute to two celebrated reporters murdered last year.
The Breach-Valdez Prize will honor journalists who follow in the footsteps of their slain colleagues Miroslava Breach and Javier Valdez, two of the more than 100 reporters murdered since 2000 in one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the press.
Its aim is “to recognize the careers of Mexican journalists who have distinguished themselves in defending human rights,” said Giancarlo Summa, director of the United Nations Information Center in Mexico.
Valdez, an award-winning journalist who covered Mexico’s powerful drug cartels, was gunned down last May in broad daylight outside the offices of Riodoce, the newspaper he co-founded in Culiacan, the capital of his native Sinaloa state.
He was also a long-time AFP collaborator.
Breach, a correspondent for Mexican daily La Jornada in the state of Chihuahua, on the US border, was a celebrated investigative journalist known for hard-hitting reports on links between politicians and organized crime.
She was shot dead in broad daylight last March as she drove her son to school.
The annual prize is also co-sponsored by UNESCO, the Ibero-American University and the French embassy in Mexico.
The first edition will be awarded on May 3 in Mexico City. The winner will receive a grant and a trip to France to take part in a series of events on free speech.
“We want to fight back against oblivion, against the normalization of violence, so that we aren’t asking each month who will be next,” said Jan Jarab, Mexico representative for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Breach and Valdez were among at least 11 journalists murdered in Mexico last year, making it the deadliest country in the world for the press after Syria, according to watchdog group Reporters Without Borders.
The latest murder came just Wednesday, when journalist Leobardo Vazquez was gunned down outside his house in Veracruz state — the second killed in 2018.
“There is no indication these crimes are going to stop. Let’s hope this prize will help all the country’s brave journalists keep up the fight,” Valdez’s widow, Griselda Triana, said at the launch of the award.