Friday, April 16

Francisco Canul: “Of course I’m afraid”: the journalist who reported the death of Victoria Salazar finds her house raided


Quintana Roo State Police arrive at the home of Francisco Canul, a journalist who broadcast the video of Victoria Salazar's death.
Quintana Roo State Police arrive at the home of Francisco Canul, a journalist who broadcast the video of the death of Victoria Salazar.Francisco Canul

“Why are we going to deny it, of course we are afraid,” says 56-year-old Mexican journalist Francisco Canul, whose house has been robbed and from which work materials and hard drives have been taken. Everything was turned upside down and the doors, blown up, have yet to be fixed. “We don’t have that much money, you have to do it little by little,” he says. Canul may be an unknown name to the general public, but the video that was released on March 27 went around the world: police officers were seen crushing Victoria Salazar to the ground, a Salvadoran who was killed due to the brutality with which they held her to the ground in Tulum. Two days later, the Yucatecan journalist covered a shooting in the center of the city, where he has lived for 26 years. He has never stopped documenting, he says by phone, the public insecurity that exists in the Caribbean city, nor the police corruption.

“It was not just any robbery, it was viciously, they were trying to intimidate me,” he says. The photos reveal a house turned upside down, the clothes thrown away, the drawers open, the papers on the floor, the doors unlocked. They took a desktop computer and two laptops, as well as photography equipment and hard drives. The family, his wife and a son, left last Saturday to rest, for Easter, and on Sunday, around one in the afternoon, they returned to the doors of a raided house. They called the police, who took an hour and a half to arrive. They dealt with lawyers and filed the complaint. “The agents of the Prosecutor’s Office have not arrived until today, Wednesday. And I still don’t have any news of how the investigation is going, ”criticizes Canul. He also asked the municipal president for police help. “He didn’t do anything, he hasn’t even called to see how we were doing,” he laments.

The reporter explained that there were citizen security cameras near the house in which, by force, the robbery should have been recorded, but nothing has been achieved for now. Among the clues found by the police, the journalist speaks of an unusual boot print, like the one used by officers. This is how the elements that investigated what happened, he explains. And he repeats: “This has not been a common robbery, it has been with fury.”

Inside the home of journalist Francisco Canul.
Inside the home of journalist Francisco Canul.FRANCISCO CANUL

“Of course there is fear. More than anything for my son, if they shoot me, nothing happens, I die doing my job, but I am not going to kneel before the corrupt police of this city, who spend their weekends extorting money extorting tourists ”, Complaint. “That is the truth, here the police are very corrupt.” Canul works for Notitulum, a local news portal, also for Channel 10 and other reporter jobs in various local media, the classic Mexican moonlighting for someone who cannot support a family on a single salary.

After the violent death of Victoria Salazar, Canul covered a shooting in the center of Tulum in which a Spanish tourist was shot. “I was behind the security line, but the police took me out of there with the luxury of violence.” He has suffered other threats and in 2012, covering the red note, he was subject to a “police ambush.” Tulum is a difficult square despite its tourist postcards in the transparent Caribbean waters. The other side of the exotic paradise.

The Mexico that tourists do not usually see left six journalists murdered in 2020 and almost 700 attacks against them or their media, an attack on the press every 13 hours, which represents an increase over the previous year of 13.6% . Some figures that the Article 19 organization periodically collects, in recent times also in the eye of the hurricane after some statements by the President of the Government, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who accused them of belonging to the “conservative movement” and questioned the financing of your activity.

The organization, born in London, has monitored attacks on journalists in Mexico for decades and now calls for more tolerance in the face of scrutiny and criticism by the current president, who charges against the media on numerous occasions. In the López Obrador Administration, a total of 17 murdered reporters have been counted. “Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries to practice journalism,” says Pedro Cárdenas, Documentation coordinator of the Program for the Protection and Defense of Article 19. And Quintana Roo, in particular. “It is the third state with the most attacks against the press and more than 30% of them involve the police forces.” Cárdenas says that it is up to the agents to investigate who has raided Canul’s home, but that Quintana Roo does offer “that context of police aggression.”

Report of the complaint filed with the Attorney General of the State of Quintana Roo.
Report of the complaint filed with the Attorney General of the State of Quintana Roo.FRANCISCO CANUL

With the help of Article 19, Canul has been under the protection protocol established by the Human Rights offices in these cases. A risk analysis will be carried out by virtue of which the corresponding measures will be established, which can be from a panic button to alert of an emergency to private escorts. The speed with which these measures are implemented is uneven, perhaps two days, perhaps a month, “they depend on media pressure, in some cases.” For now, the Tulum journalist has not received anything, he says. “I do not see more police surveillance nor do I have the emergency button yet. No one from the police has contacted me ”, he assures. In any case, it is difficult to put the uniformed men to protect someone who, supposedly, is a victim of police repression. All this must be analyzed in the risk examination.

After several days putting the house in order, whose bars are still locked with sticks, and buying in installments the material that he has lost due to the theft, Francisco Canul says that he is, once again, at work 100%. The police boot also weighs on him.

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