Concern Over The Arrest Of Mexican Journalist Sanjuana Martínez

Two websites devoted to protecting the rights of journalists worldwide are expressing concern over the arrest of Mexican journalist Sanjuana Martínez on Thursday (July 5) supposedly due to a civil custody dispute.

Martinez has done critical reporting in regards to Mexican judge Luz Maria Guerrero Delgado and her ordering back in 2008 a raid on a center for domestic abuse.

“We are troubled by the detention of Sanjuana Martínez and demand her release,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ‘s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “We call on Mexican authorities to reassign Martínez’s case to avoid a potential conflict of interest and ensure a due process of law.”

According to the website Reporters Without Borders Martinez was arrested by three police officers and taken to jail. The official reason given for her arrest, in Monterrey in Nuevo Leon state, was that it was part of divorce proceedings between the journalist and her husband, the Spanish judge Carlos Castresana.

The pretext is so implausible and misleading that it could be seen at best as personal revenge by the judge who ordered it, with whom the journalist is in serious dispute, or at worst as a desire to punish Sanjuana Martínez for her views and the stands she has taken.

Martinez works for the newspaper La Jornada and has been a strident advocate on behalf of abused women and children. Judge Luz María Guerrero Delgado who issued the arrest warrant of Martinez had previously threatened her with losing her parental rights, the same judge Martinez had been critical of in her reporting.

Also according to Reporters Without Borders, Martinez on July 2 took a stand in an editorial making allegations of fraud in the Mexican national elections last Sunday (July 1), allegations which were also reported by many in news media outlets both here in the US and abroad after the election.

The allegations of “vote buying” were denied by the deemed winner of the election, Enrique Pena Nieto and his party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party whose Presidential candidates had ruled over the Mexican government for many years before losing the Presidential Election in 2000 to Vincente Fox.

According to reports Pena Nieto has all but been declared the winner again after a vote recount in which he has 38.4 % of the vote over nearest rival Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador who has 31.4 % of the vote with 91.3 % of a vote recount completed.

Lopez Obrador also lost the 2006 election to current President Felipe Calderon by less than a percentage point. Lopez Obrador after that election also claimed voter fraud and in protest of the election he occupied Mexico City’s central plaza and main business avenue for weeks with encampments.

Penna Nieto in both his campaign and after being the “declared winner” last Sunday has vowed to make Mexico safer, a country where tens of thousands have been killed from drug related violence.

In an interview with ABC News he said, “We have to emphasize the reduction of violence that our country lives in right now. The policy of fighting insecurity has to have social support and to achieve that goal it’s necessary today to give Mexicans conditions of greater calm and security”.

How that pledge will pertain to journalists in Mexico where 85 have been murdered and another 15 gone missing over the past decade remains to be seen. And not to be lost in all of this, what of journalist Sanjuana Martinez ?