Report to the Midyear Meeting 2019
March 29 to 31
Cartagena, Colombia
In this period six journalists have been murdered. In a couple of cases there were arrests, but without there being made public the motives for the crime. In other cases, and as appears to be customary, the authorities rushed to discredit the victims rather than strengthen the investigations.
With the start of a new administration, headed by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the relationship with news media has deteriorated considerably.
On the one hand there is the issue of official advertising. President López Obrador said from his campaign that for reasons of austerity he will be reducing the budgets in governmental campaigns. He declared that official advertising merely served to maintain an insane relationship between the government and media owners.
However, in December 2018 the new government presented the 2019 Expenditures Budget bill, considering for social communication 4,258 million pesetas, a similar amount to that requested by the previous government. It was not justified how this amount was budgeted or under what plan or social communication strategy it was based.
On January 1 there entered into force the Social Communication General Law (LGCS), voted on during the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto, which allows discretion in the use of public resources. This law was criticized at the time because it does not contain sufficient controls regarding social communication, a situation that encourages the proselytism of public money. Said law has not been repealed.
On January 29 the Government Ministry published in the Official Journal the general outlines for the registration and authorization of communication programs and those of promotion and advertising of the agencies of the Federal Public Administration for fiscal year 2019.
In the document neither do there remain clear the criteria with which the authority seeks to measure audiences, print runs and penetration of media to provide the official advertising, which could lead to undue decisions.
The lack of clarity in this matter has not been the only hurdle on the road. The newspaper Reforma faced a charge via fiscal auditing for its critical stance. Reporters who cover the President's usual morning press conference have been advised to avoid out-of-time questions. There has been no official pronouncement at all on the six journalists murdered since López Obrador took office despite the fact that combating crimes against journalists was a campaign promise.
On December 1 there was found without life journalist Jesús Alejandro Márquez Jiménez. The body of the reporter and stringer of various news media in Nayarit was found at the side of a road in the town of San Cayetano, Tepic.
He worked for eight years at the newspaper Crítica Nacional Noticias until he launched his own project, the online media Orión Informativo. The work he carried out in that was highly critical of local officials and public servants.
Some weeks later three officials of the Nayarit Traffic General Office were arrested for their alleged participation in the murder, they were the head of the office, Patricia Betancourt, Santos Román Sánchez Muñoz, former computer chief, and Luis Alberto Hernández, who worked in the licensing area.
On December 6 journalist Diego García Corona, a reporter with the weekly Morelos, was murdered while riding in his car in Ecatepec, Mexico state. García, 35, was intercepted in the Jardines de Morelos neighborhood by a group of armed men. They shot him at the corner of Playa Street and Jardines Avenue.
Journalist Rafael Murúa Manríquez, director of a community radio station in Baja California Sur state, was found dead on January 21, 2019 with signs of violence. He was director of Radiokashan. He had complained in 2018 of having received threats due to his journalistic work. He then reported it to the administration of Mulegé City Mayor Felipe Prado Batista, although he did not make anyone directly responsible.¨

One week later the Baja California Sur Attorney General's Office (PGJEBCS) announced the arrest of Héctor "N," alleged murderer of the journalist. Baja California Sur Governor Carlos Mendoza Davis said in his Twitter account that the Attorney General's Office was continuing with the investigations.
On February 9 Jesús Eugenio Ramos Rodríguez, host of a news program on Tabasco state radio, died after being shot in the town of Emiiano Zapata as he was having breakfast with the head of the Morena party there, Carlos Enrique Campos, and former mayor Armín Marín Sauri. The victim was shot eight times.

The following day "Chuchín" would have been 56 years old. From Monday to Friday he hosted the news program "Our Region TODAY" on radio station Oye 99.9 FM.

On March 15 the murder occurred of Santiago Barroso Alfaro in San Luis Río Colorado, Sonora. He hosted the program "Good Morning San Luis" on radio Río Digital, headed the online newspaper RED 653, strung for the weekly Contraseña and was a professor at the San Luis Río Colorado Technological University. At around 9:00 p.m. there was a knock on the door at his home, and when he opened the door he was attacked. He was shot several times, killing him. He was 47 years old, there were no known previous threats against him.

On March 25, López Obrador presented at a morning press conference the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists. However, this is the same protection system that operated from the past six years. Undersecretary of the Interior, Alejandro Encinas, said that there are 790 people under the protection mechanism, of which 292 (37%) are journalists. The official acknowledged flaws in the mechanism created in 2012 and said it should be reviewed.

The current mechanism contemplates the following characteristics: urgent measures (evacuation, temporary relocation, security protection, protection of buildings and other necessary measures to safeguard life, integrity and the mobility of beneficiaries), and technological and prevention measures (delivery of special assistance services buttons with location apps, cellular equipment, radio or satellite communications devices; installation of cameras, locks, lights or other security measures in the facilities of a group or home one person: bulletproof vests, metal detector, cars, others).

Also involves media owners in the co-responsibility of the protection tasks of their journalists and workers, although the most recent cases of murdered journalists worked independently on their digital portals or on community radios, outside the structure of a conventional media.

On March 25, the body of the sports journalist, Omar Iván Camacho, was found under a bridge in the municipality of Salvador Alvarado, in Sinaloa. Camacho, 30, disappeared Sunday after participating in the broadcast of a baseball game.

The authorities have not provided more details of the situation. Camacho worked for a local radio station, in addition to having a digital page with sports content.

During this period there have been recurring cutbacks in media staffs throughout the country. The cause cited in newspapers, radio and television stations, websites and news agencies was the poor state of news businesses, little private advertising, change in consumer habits regarding media and above all much uncertainty regarding the announced reduction in official advertising by the federal government.
Remaining constant is the fall in the sale of print media, migration of advertising to websites and streaming, and a very slow ability to make emerging platforms such as podcasts, newsletters and social media to be able to be monetized.

Other major events:

Daniel Blancas, a reporter with La Crónica de Hoy, was held captive by armed assailants on February 1 in Hidalgo. He was carrying out an investigation into the effects of the strategy of combating the illegal extraction of oil in the region. On board a vehicle and hooded Blancas was interrogated for half an hour and warned that if he returned to the region he would be killed.

During the trial of Joaquín "Chapo" Guzmán in a New York court it was learned that his sons killed Mexican journalist Javier Valdez because he had insisted on publishing an interview with drug dealer Dámaso López Núñez, known as "Licenciado" or "Lic" López, a witness in the trial said that Valdez "disobeyed the threatening orders of the sons of my buddy and that is why they killed him."

Valdez, a specialist in drug trafficking, co-founder of the weekly paper of Riodoce de Sinaloa, northeastern Mexico, and an AFP stringer, was shot to death in Culiacán, Sinaloa, on May 15, 2017. On January 25 Griselda Triana, his widow, called for the justice system to shed light on the murder of her husband, during a conference of President López Obrador.