Italian journalist arbitrarily deported
"We call on the Mexican authorities to review this journalist's deportation as it contravenes all the legal procedures in force," Reporters Without Borders said. "He was not told in advance he would have to leave the country or why. His right to request Italian consular assistance or to consult a lawyer and his right to warn his family were not respected. International human rights instruments ratified by Mexico and Mexico's own immigration law (RLGP 209-211) were all violated."
Proiettis was detained and then summarily deported under escort all the way to Italy when he went to the office of the National Migration Institute (INM) in San Cristobal de las Casas on 15 April to renew his residence permit. His illegal expulsion was carried out just two months ahead of a visit to Mexico by the special rapporteur on migrant rights of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Reporters Without Borders interviewed Proiettis about his expulsion:
How did you learn that you had to leave Mexico?
"I was renewing my annual residence and work permit, as I do every year. I had begun the procedure a week before and I had been given an appointment for 10:30 a.m. on Friday, 15 April. When I arrived at the immigration office, I was asked to sit in a small room. Five immigration officers came and escorted me to the airport. I was put on a direct flight to Madrid, and from there to Rome, escorted by two immigration officers all the way. At Madrid airport, I was put in a Spanish police area under the surveillance of Mexican officials, who have no authority there."
Did the Mexican authorities tell you about this decision? Did they respect your right to ask for consular assistance or a lawyer?
"I was given no paper, nothing at all, still less an explanation of the reason for my deportation. I learned about that through the media on my arrival in Italy. They did not let me communicate with my embassy in Mexico or with my partner, although I have lived there for 18 years. I was not even able to pass by my home to at least collect some of my personal effects."
The National Migration Institute told Reporters Without Borders that you did not have the right papers to reside legally in the country, either as a university teacher or as a newspaper correspondent. What do you say to this?
"It's a lie. They even say I requested a year's sabbatical from my work without telling them, but this is not true. I only asked for a five-month sabbatical and I continued to be linked to the university."
Do you think this had anything to do with your journalistic activities?
"Clearly. Something I said must have upset them. I was lucky enough to be the first person to interview Comandante Marcos on 1 January 1994 and thereafter, during the 1990s, I followed the Zapatista movement's evolution. In recent years, I have been writing about the war against drug trafficking, in which 40,000 people have been killed since the start of the Calderón administration. Another thing, a few days after the climate change summit in Cancún, where another journalist insulted Calderón and where I was identified and photographed, three policemen arrested me without explanation and then accused me of a crime I had not committed. I was scared and thought they would kill me. But thanks to a solidarity campaign, an official told me it was a mistake and they apologized."
How would you describe the current climate for freedom of expression in Mexico?
"Very deteriorated. Mexico is the world's most dangerous country for journalists. There is a lot of intimidation, especially in the north. Above all there is a lot of self-censorship, because it is very dangerous to write about drug trafficking or to criticize the government. More than censorship, what dominates is self-censorship. There is no freedom of expression in Mexico."