Journalist Héber López was assassinated on February 10 in the state of Oaxaca. His case was the fifth homicide of a reporter so far this year in Mexico. The next day, the president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) He dedicated a large part of his ‘morning’, as he called the daily press conferences he has offered since he came to power in Mexico, to attacking another communicator: Carlos Loret de Mola.
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That is, basically, the picture of the situation that the press is going through in Mexico. On the one hand, journalists are murdered and on the other, a discourse of harassment against those who are uncomfortable for the Government is consolidated.
This confrontation with Loret de Mola – not by far the only one that the president has sustained, but perhaps the most scandalous at the moment in which it occurs – seems to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back in the Aztec country.
The journalists protested with a minute of silence after the conference, in honor of their five murdered colleagues. Many others protested before the Chamber of Deputies, demanding that their lives be protected. In addition, two massive demonstrations were organized in some thirty cities demanding that the persecution of communicators cease.
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Loret’s sin was exposing that José Ramón López Beltrán, one of the sons of AMLOhad lived in a lavish Houston home owned by Keith Schilling, a top Baker Hughes executive.
The investigation was carried out by LatinUS, a platform led by Loret, and the organization Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity.
The president’s response basically consisted of exposing the supposed income he received Loret de Mola. “I am going to request information from the Transparency Institute and, formally, I am going to ask the SAT (Tax Administration System) to certify the data”, López Obrador threatened.
Trade talked with Carlos Loret de Molabout this new confrontation with the president and the “bloodbath” that journalism is going through in his country.
—150 journalists murdered since 2000, 5 of them so far this year. Barely 1% of those investigated for these crimes since 2010 have been sentenced…
And I would like to add one more number. So far in President López Obrador’s six-year term (2018 – 2024), 30 journalists have been murdered. If you compare it with previous governments, we have never had in the first three years of government so lethal for journalists. Not even close.
—What pushed Mexico into such a deadly scenario?
The first thing is that this cannot be attributed only to the López Obrador Administration. It is a story of violations of the rights of journalists and above all a story where killing a journalist is not difficult. It is not paid with jail, persecution or investigations. Officials and politicians at all levels feel free to do so.
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This administration seems to me that the problem has worsened for two reasons: violence is worse than before and journalists are not exempt from it; the second is that for the first time from the highest sphere of power, that of a very powerful and popular president, we have an incessant harassment and attack on the media, and journalists in particular. The president has generated the feeling that a journalist can be attacked, insulted and defamed and nothing happens. The president does not exercise his right to reply, he has invented a right to slander, which is very different. When we present him with complaints, documents and images, he does not respond by denying hard data, but rather insults and slanders the journalist. He does not deny a single word. All the organizations have warned that this generates an atmosphere of verbal violence against communicators that also translates into physical violence.
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—What has this confrontation with López Obrador represented for you?
I am a little surprised at the level of verbal violence and slander that the president has reached against me. But this social anger that was generated from Friday of last week, when the president decided to expose what he claims is my tax information and use all state media to attack me personally, in addition to ordering the authorities to investigate me, it is diaphanous It is the revenge of a president to a journalist who revealed something that has disarmed his speech.
I cannot forget the central point, we hit the nail on the head with the investigation of the house of López Obrador’s son in Houston. He exposed the falsity of the president’s austerity speech, of the anti-corruption fight, etc. And I’m not saying it, his attitudes show it, exhibit and prove it. Even the journalists related to the president warned that what he was doing against me is wrong. Although they do not agree with me and are with his project, it is wrong. López Obrador has not stopped, he has continued to climb, because since he has no way to explain it, he chooses to attack me.
Fortunately, the matter stopped being about me, a phenomenon was generated in social networks #allsomosloret, a Space was generated on Twitter that reached a world record. This is about the harassment of freedom of expression and the dead journalists in the country. That is much more important than anything that happens to me. We are in an environment where your life costs you. Until now it has cost me the insults and slanders, it costs other colleagues their lives. That can’t be compared. Then, they began to deal with this democratic deterioration that Mexico is suffering at the hands of President López Obrador. A few days ago, The Economist magazine downgraded the quality of democracy in the country, today we are closer to Venezuela than Uruguay.
A world record “space” to put a stop to the would-be dictator @lopezobrador_ . Thank you for that solidarity and that support. I will continue doing journalism at any cost. I am clear that this goes far beyond me: it is Mexican society defending itself. pic.twitter.com/DxZxLfkd97
– Carlos Loret de Mola (@CarlosLoret) February 12, 2022
—“It is an environment where life costs you”. Has yours been in danger because of this confrontation?
For a long time yes. This is not new. If I’m not mistaken, the president has slandered me 132 times in his morning conferences. Loret de Mola has said in a negative context more than 130 times since he took office. I know that I have become an uncomfortable journalist because we have revealed his corruption scandals in his family, his brothers, his son’s house, several members of the cabinet with inexplicable fortunes, videos of his brothers receiving money underground. But he has also attacked other journalists, intellectuals or media outlets such as the Reforma and El Universal newspapers. I have been receiving threats for a long time, also in times of Peña Nieto and Calderón. But never like now. Of course, with this new harassment I will have to take special security measures, especially for the protection of my family. I’m already taking them in fact.
—How can you continue working in such a context?
What I can answer you is very different from what I can say about my colleagues at the municipal or state level. In these 20 years working in audiovisual media I have managed to get my name recognized and I want to think that my visibility acts as a shield. I have stood in front of the president and told him that he is not going to shut me up. He can keep insulting me and I will resist. But it is because I have national tribunes, robust media outlets behind me, and a lot of visibility. What worries me is that it creates this atmosphere and any governor, municipal president or police chief feels entitled to intimidate any colleague who does not enjoy these privileged tools that I enjoy. What is up to us is to push so that there are conditions, to tell him that he cannot continue doing this because it is costing lives.
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