MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Violence against the press in Mexico rose to unprecedented levels in the first half of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s administration, up 85% from the first half of his predecessor’s term, according to a report published on Tuesday, April 5.
The report comes as Mexico faces a streak of journalist killings that has drawn criticism from local media and US lawmakers alike, while Lopez Obrador regularly uses his press conferences to single out reporters.
Lopez Obrador criticized the media on average six times a month in 2021, according to human rights organization Article 19.
Last month, Lopez Obrador lashed out at EU lawmakers after they passed a resolution urging him to tone down the rhetoric against journalists, calling the group “sheep.”
In 2021 alone, a case of violence against the press was reported on average every 14 hours. Of those, two out of every five were linked to government officials, Article 19 found.
“The continuing violence against the press is the result of absentee governments, both current and past, that have been unable to (…) investigate crimes against freedom of expression,” the nonprofit said.
“On the contrary, they directly attack the media through stigma, physical violence and harassment, among other affronts.”
The report said there were 1,945 such attacks on media, including 25 killings, in the first three years and one month of Lopez Obrador’s six-year term. That compared with 1,053 attacks, including 15 killings, at the same point in predecessor Enrique Pena Nieto’s term.
The first three months of 2022 were the deadliest for journalists, with eight deaths, since Article 19 began keeping count in 2000.
The president’s spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
One journalist killed in January, Lourdes Maldonado, had pleaded to Lopez Obrador for help at a press conference saying she feared for her life despite reportedly being enrolled in the state’s journalists protection program.
The protection programs, which operate on the state and federal level in Mexico, are “politically weakened,” Article 19 alleged.
The non-governmental organization urged Lopez Obrador to “strengthen policies of prevention, protection, and access to justice” for journalists. – Rappler.com