Did Enrique Peña Nieto Back Carmen Aristegui Firing? Some Journalists Seem To Think So

aristegui looking up
Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui walks after speaking with journalists outside MVS radio station in Mexico City March 16, 2015. Aristegui, whose team revealed a conflict-of-interest scandal ensnaring President Enrique Pena Nieto last year, has been fired, her employer MVS Radio said on Sunday. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

The first Mexicoleaks controversy continues, but it might not have anything to to with the Wikileaks-style whistleblower site. MVS Radio fired part of Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui’s crew earlier this week, partially because of their involvement Mexicoleaks. She went with them, demanding their reinstatement, and saying on Monday that MVS’ actions were “a trampling of freedom of speech.” On Thursday, she softened her tone, asking MVS to take her show back.

“We’ve made an expressed petition to MVS; we want to be back on the air to keep doing journalism and to keep serving Mexican society,” she said, in an interview with CNN’s Fernando del Rincón. “Something serious must have happened to the Vargas family,” she said in a statement on her website.

In her comments Thursday, Aristegui invited the Vargas family, who owns MVS, to sit down with her on Monday next week to discuss her proposed reinstatement.

“If they say yes, we’re ready to come back.”

It’s not the first time that Aristegui had trouble with the Vargas family or was fired from MVS. In 2011 her boss let her go after she entertained rumors during her show that then-President Calderón was an alcoholic. She was rehired, after a 17-day debate raged over whether Aristegui had breached ethics, or was silenced through political pressure. Calderón Secretary of Communications and Transport allegedly pressured MVS, threatening to delay a company broadcast project. Here’s how MVS president  Joaquín Vargas remembers the Secretary’s comments.

“We’ve found that your 2.5 [GHz] project has it’s own merits... but if you rehire that journalist, you’re project will be screwed and you can forget about the Government until the day you die,” Vargas recalled. Many Mexican news outlets rely heavily on government contracts.

Aristegui’s defenders claim that the recent firing was another attempt to silence her critical voice. Most recently, her team broke the “white house” scandal, in which current president Nieto’s wife and colleague are accused of receiving favorable mortgages and free or undervalued property in exchange for political favors. Martín Moreno, columnist for Excélsior y SinEmbargoMX, speculates that Nieto is behind her firing.

“[In an interview] I told her [...] ‘They’re not going to forgive, Carmen, [they’re] going to make you pay,” said Moreno, in a blog post. “I lament saying this, but I was right.”

Like Aristegui did with “drunk” Calderón, Moreno is merely speculating. Yet the Mexican government does appear to exert serious pressure on journalism, as the 2011 case showed.

"It's so obvious that this has nothing to with Mexicoleaks," said an editor in Mexico City who has worked with Aristegui's, quoted by Committee to Protect journalists. "It's only a pretext to screw over Carmen Aristegui," said the editor, who asked to remain anonymous. 

Among Aristegui’s less anonymous supporters was Guillermo Arriaga, the prominent Mexican screenwriter whose stores launched Alejandro Iñarritu’s directing career.

“The country needs the Carmen Aristegui space. Her critical presence is fundamental,” he wrote in a tweet.

 

 

Meanwhile, representatives of MVS said that they would not rehire Aristegui this time.

“Our relationship has terminated. We wish her good luck,” said Felipe Chao, MVS’ vice president of institutional relations, in a statement to CNN.

Aristegui originally left MVS in protest of two firings of colleagues who were let go because of their relationship to Mexicoleaks. Chao said that she was too unapologetic and that she demanded her colleague’s reinstatement, which was “unacceptable.” 

 

 

 

 

What do you think?