U.S Ambassador condemns attacks on freedom of expression

U.S. Ambassador Anthony Wayne has released a statement denouncing aggressions against the press in Mexico.

“Freedom of expression is one of the pillars of democracy and a priority of the government of the United States,” the ambassador said. “We energetically condemn recent aggressions against the media in the state of Mexico and in Tamaulipas. An attack against the freedom of the press is an attack against our shared democratic values.”

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Governor Javier Duarte de Ochoa (left) with U.S. Ambassador Anthony Wayne (right)

In the statement, the ambassador mentioned his recent visit to Veracruz, where he met with controversial Governor Javier Duarte de Ochoa. However, he once again stopped short of criticism. “Recently I had the opportunity of meeting with journalists in the state of Veracruz, and separately, with the governor. I emphasized U.S. support for the freedom of press and expression, highlighting that an open and vibrant atmosphere in information media brings benefits to the private sector, to civil society and to all citizens.”

Following the encounter last week, the ambassador’s praise for Duarte sparked controversy on social media, as he described him as “a defender of democratic rights.”

Only two days earlier, The Hay Festival of literature and arts cancelled its event in Veracruz in protest against the failure to protect freedom of expression in the state. Festival organizers were explicitly critical of the governor.

“Since Mr. Duarte started in government in 2010 in Veracruz eleven journalists have been murdered and four more have disappeared,” it said in a statement. “A festival of culture and freedom like the Hay Festival cannot take place in an environment of violence against culture and freedom.”

Twitter: @Stephentwoodman

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