As a journalist in the Mexican city of Tampico, Mario Segura also spent many weekends working as a clown at children’s parties.
His income as a journalist wasn’t enough to cover all of his family’s needs. But his second job as Mayito, the clown, allowed Segura to send his son to college.
What this 52-year-old reporter never imagined, was that one day he would have to completely forgo journalism, and have to rely exclusively on his clown abilities to make a living. That’s what happened after drug violence forced Segura to flee to Mexico City.
“When you’re a journalist and you get to a new place, it’s difficult to get a new job,” Segura told Fusion, as he distributed his clown business cards outside a Mexico City supermarket. “Employers know that I come from Tamaulipas state, and they think I could present a risk to them.”
Masked gunmen kidnapped and beat Segura for about a week. The gunmen told him to stop writing about violence in Tampico. Fortunately, his life was spared, but he was ordered to shut down his site.
Segura, who is now struggling to afford a small apartment outside Mexico City, is one of thirty journalists, who have had to flee to Mexico’s capital in the past two years, according to the human rights group Article 19.
Even as the Mexican government assures the public that drug violence is decreasing, attacks against journalists who stand in the way of cartels and corrupt officials, is seemingly getting worse.
In 2012, the human rights group Article 19, reported 207 acts of aggression against media workers. This includes murders, attacks against media facilities and instances in which police beat up journalists who cover protests and other events.
Article 19 also reports 225 attacks against journalists in the first nine months of this year. These incidents include three murders, four attacks against media buildings, and seven kidnappings.
Human rights groups believe these attacks are happening so frequently because the government is failing to prosecute crimes. They say impunity, gives criminals an incentive to repeat attacks against the media, and Mexican citizens at large.
Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.