Less than 24 hours after the murder of a journalist in Mexicothe sixth so far this year, the president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador this Friday described several journalists as “mercenaries” and exhibited the salaries of famous communicators such as Carlos Loret de Mola.
“The attacks against the press are an enormous political irresponsibility, when it has the obligation to call for peace and find solutions by opening up criticism so that the attacks against journalists cease”told Efe the director for Mexico and Central America from the NGO Article 19, Leopoldo Maldonado.
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Just on Thursday, reporter Heber López was shot dead inside his recording studio in the southern state of Oaxaca, becoming the sixth journalist killed so far this year, according to a count by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
And although López Obrador assured this Friday, during his morning press conference that there will be no impunity for López’s crime, in his speech he again attacked the press.
The president criticized by name Enrique Krauze, Héctor Aguilar Camín and Carlos Loret de Mola, who in his Latinus outlet revealed that a son of the president, José Ramón López Beltrán, lived in 2019 in a house in Houston, Texas, of a construction contractor. Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex).
Even López Obrador showed that, allegedly, Loret de Mola receives more than 35 million pesos a year (more than 1.7 million dollars) while the president only earns 2 million pesos (almost 97,500 dollars).
“The mafia of power hid for a long time the salaries of these famous journalists, who are not like you, they are hit-and-run journalists that the big communication companies have,” said the president.
After the president’s accusations, Loret de Mola assured on Twitter that what López Obrador said is false: “The president is cornered. He doesn’t know how to get rid of the scandal of his son’s house. And today he slanders me again and on top of that he puts me at risk by revealing inflated and false amounts of supposed income. It is very serious. It’s a crime. This would-be dictator is out of his mind.”
My response to the president’s threats and lies. And all … for the mansions of his son Houston. pic.twitter.com/vlrqyLjGxV
– Carlos Loret de Mola (@CarlosLoret) February 11, 2022
Maldonado considered that Mexico “He is experiencing lethal violence against the press, of unprecedented proportions, and what we would expect from the Mexican government is a public condemnation. But there is not, there is no will to have a contingency plan”.
He recalled that López Obrador’s confrontation with the press has been constant, and even, on June 30, 2021, a section was opened in his morning conference where attacks on the press have intensified.
“Bending”, “corrupt” “unfair” “yellow” “conservative” are just some of the expressions that the president has launched into the press during his administration.
His statements have been condemned by organizations such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, the Inter-American Press Association or the Committee to Protect Journalists, which have even accused an abuse of power by the president by slandering and insulting, from his position, the press.
RISK FOR JOURNALISTS
For Maldonado, launching attacks and stigmatizing those who exercise the right to freedom of expression only increases the risk for the work of these professionals.
“His speech causes other political actors to replicate his attacks. These actors feel empowered and allowed to attack in the face of a narrative that presents the press as an adversary. We are in a war speech, where the enemy must be annihilated, ”he said.
Mexico It is one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist. According to the organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF), in the World Press Freedom Index, Mexico It is in 143rd place out of 180 countries.
From 2000 to date, Article 19 has documented 149 murders of journalists in Mexico, possibly related to their work. Of the total, 137 are men and 12 are women.
Of these, 47 were registered during the previous term of President Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018) and 29 in the current one of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (2018-2024).
According to Signa Lab, an interdisciplinary laboratory of the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO), from 2010 to 2021, 1,200 attacks against women communicators have been registered.
But in the last three years (from 2018 to 2021), 769 cases of harassment, threats and attacks against journalists have been detected, which represents more than 64% of the cases compared to the same previous period.
For Maldonado, journalists not only suffer from the stigmatization that the president launches against the press, they are also the object of attacks on their social networks, especially from those who defend the so-called fourth transformation, the political project promoted by López Obrador.
During the first semester of 2021, Article 19 documented 362 attacks against journalists and the media, and the State is the main aggressor against the press with 134 attacks
Part of the attacks suffered by journalists are death threats, intimidation, harassment, physical attacks and news blackouts.
For Jade Ramírez Cuevas, a member of the Red Periodistas de a Pie, López Obrador’s statements “affect journalists” because they add to the risk that practicing this profession already entailed in Mexico.
“The conditions of risk and vulnerability come from other six-year terms. Although his statements do generate a feeling of discredit towards the work of journalists, ”she pointed out.
He pointed out that it is important to divert the conversation towards the causes of violence against the press: “Inquire into the state governments, who are the mafias that are, for example, in Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, into the prosecutor’s offices, demand that the rights commissions humans do their job,” he said.
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