In 2020, 620 attacks on journalists were registered in Mexico, 49.5% were committed by public officials, according to Artículo 19.
Mexico celebrated World Press Freedom Day on Monday, May 3rd, with a spiral of violence against journalists and persistent impunity, while civil organizations criticize that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador attacks the media excessively.
This year’s commemoration occurs between the coronavirus pandemic, which has also affected journalists, and in the middle of the electoral process that drags acts of violence against politicians and many pressures for the media.
“In Mexico, there is a trend of the annual increase in attacks against journalists that will continue as long as the authorities do not do something to stop it,” said Paula Saucedo, an officer of the protection and defense program of the Artículo 19 organization.
Saucedo considered that among the adversities that journalists suffer is the lack of investigation of crimes against informants, the lack of support networks, and the lack of responsibility of the owners of the companies to provide them with security.
“These issues make it easier for journalists to be attacked and since nothing is done to prevent it each year, violence will continue to grow,” she said.
According to the NGO Artículo 19, in 2020 there were 692 attacks and 49.5% of them were committed by public officials. Said attacks increased by 13.62% compared to 2019 when 609 were documented.
In addition, in just over two years of the administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, 17 journalists have been killed for reasons possibly related to their work and, according to the organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF), murders against journalists have impunity levels of 99%.
Attacks were also recorded during the pandemic. In 2020, Artículo 19 documented 113 attacks against journalists who were covering information related to the health contingency, while last year almost 100 journalists died from Covid-19.
The other “quite risky context for journalists is the elections,” Saucedo said, given that during the electoral processes corruption issues related to political parties or candidates are published and “that generates a violent reaction and reprisals against the press.”
She recalled that in the 2018 electoral process there were 185 attacks against journalists, of which 62 occurred on election day, while in the current process, which will culminate on June 6, 13 attacks have been documented “and we know, with all certainty, that the number will grow”.
The president’s attitude towards the press has been widely criticized for his continuous attacks on those media that, according to him, defend conservative thinking.
This same Monday, López Obrador even attacked foreign press correspondents, because he said that before they were “spoiled” by the Presidency and now, having lost privileges, they attack his government.
For Artículo 19, the panorama of violence and attacks against the press has been increasing because the authorities “have not complied with their obligations to guarantee security so that journalists can carry out their work without fear of reprisals, without violence and without censorship,” Saucedo continued.
Precisely, on Article 19, President López Obrador criticized this organization on March 31 as a result of a report on human rights from the US State Department in which, citing information from that NGO, he accused the director of the state agency Notimex, Sanjuana Martínez, to censor journalists.
“The president stigmatizes and attacks the messenger to distort the message, that is his objective when a journalist asks a question that he does not like,” said Saucedo.
For journalist Gildo Garza, who fled his native Tamaulipas in 2017 threatened by the Zetas cartel and is in charge of the Association of Displaced Journalists in Mexico, López Obrador’s speech “is one of hatred and polarization which he has promoted since the first day he took office and began his morning lectures”.
Garza indicated that now “other congress members, mayors, governors, and even citizens are repeating the same discourse of disqualification and polarization towards the press.”
According to the journalist and activist, López Obrador “has started a war against organized civil society in Mexico because it is the only counterweight that remains to be eliminated in his government and that is why he discredits real journalists.”
The association that Garza represents registered from 2020 to date the displacement of 14 journalists from different states of the country due to threats and who when leaving their place of residence have to leave with their families, which gives a total of about 60 people exiled from their places of origin.
Source: Forbes Mexico