The main non-governmental organizations in the world agree on the high level of danger for journalists in the country.
Since October, 10 journalists have been murdered. All of them in the inland regions of Mexico - most of them with a history of threats and requests for protection.
In three years, Article 19 has counted 1,945 attacks on the press by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, as well as 30 murders of journalists and two other who went missing. And from December 2018 to 2021, the attacks on journalists – coming from the Presidency – have increased 85%.
The murders have provoked mobilizations of communicators from several states demanding from the authorities the clarification of the cases, security guarantees to exercise their informative work and the cessation of the expressions of stigmatization from the Presidency against media and journalists.
President López Obrador has downplayed these demands. He insists that the security indexes in the country are better than in the past, and that the media that criticize him exaggerate in order to damage his image.
The Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection (SSPC), Rosa Icela Rodríguez, reported that, in the six murders perpetrated against journalists, 21 people have been arrested and another five are being sought for their involvement.
President López Obrador has not ceased to accuse the country's communicators of being part of a corporate conspiracy to undermine his government - for having lost privileges in advertising and perks.
He still keeps the section "Who's Who in Lies" in his Wednesday morning conference, where he refutes what the critical media say about him, counter-arguing with falsehoods, partial data or only denying without offering proof. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has asked him, unsuccessfully, to cancel this program.
Pressed by the number of journalists murdered in 2022, he offered to present a report every 15 days on the investigations, but he has only half complied.
He also dismissed the criticism he has received from multinational non-governmental organizations, the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament - which he accused of being misinformed and its legislators of being "sheep" of the world's neoliberal powers.
Journalistic investigations on his family and close circle have triggered López Obrador's fury. In November 2021, due to a report that cast suspicion on his children's chocolate business - benefiting from the official welfare program Sembrando Vida - he verbally attacked Proceso magazine and journalist Carmen Aristegui.
He then criticized journalist Carlos Loret Mola who in Latinus reported the conflict of interest of one of his sons and his daughter-in-law in receiving favors from a Pemex contractor. The President made Loret Mola's income public - in violation of banking regulations.
In this deteriorating environment, there have been hundreds of aggressions by criminals and members of organized crime - in an attempt to inhibit the work of the media.
The states of Tamaulipas, Michoacán and Guerrero are areas of absolute silence, where information on security, police or some political content is no longer published - in order to protect the physical integrity of journalists.
Representatives of the newspapers El Universal, Milenio and Radio Fórmula, among others, have been threatened online, verbally and with firearms, so that they wouldn't report certain issues or adapt them to the criteria of the criminal bosses.
On September 8, 2021, the Supreme Court of Justice determined that Congress must correct the omissions detected in the General Law of Social Communication - which allow discretionary spending of government advertising - in order to establish transparent and clear criteria for its granting.
The House of Representatives, controlled by the official Morena party has ignored the issue and has only stated that it has a judicial extension to rectify the law until next April 30.
Murders of journalists:
On 28 October, Fredy López Arévalo was murdered in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas by an individual traveling on a motorcycle, just as he was arriving at his home near the municipal slaughterhouse - reported El Heraldo de Chiapas.
López Arévalo was a correspondent for El Universal in Guatemala in the 1990s, worked for Panorama magazine - which circulated in Central America - was in charge of the Notimex office in Chiapas, was head of information for the Novedades newspaper, and also published some texts in Proceso magazine. He was the owner of the magazine and news portal Jovel, he was also a correspondent for Notimex. His last publication on social networks was made that afternoon indicating that he had been at a family member's birthday. Strangely, on January 6, 2022, the state attorney general's office reported that the bodies of Jonathan "N" alias "El Moco" and Eder Ezequiel "N" alias "El Norteño" - the alleged killers of the journalist - were found on December 30.
On October 28, Alfredo Cardoso was murdered. He was a reporter and photographer for a news portal in Acapulco, Guerrero. He was shot five times. A group of armed men broke into Cardoso's house on October 26. They forced him out and held him hostage for a few hours. He was later abandoned on a nearby street, in the Loma Bonita neighborhood, and was found wounded inside his car. He did not survive the attack and died days later in hospital. Cardoso worked for the news portal Las Dos Costas. No criminals have been arrested.
On January 10, Jose Luis Gamboa Arenas was stabbed to death in an alleged robbery in the Floresta subdivision in Veracruz. He was a communicator on crime related issues and was the director of the portal Inforegio.
Gamboa interviewed political figures live from La Parroquia café; he also published reports and videos on his YouTube channel. Governor Cuitláhuac García Jiménez reported that his murder was related to his work as a journalist. No one has been arrested and the motive is unknown.
On January 17, Margarito Esquivel Martínez was murdered in Tijuana. According to information from the weekly Zeta - one of the publications with which he collaborated - shortly after midday a shot person was reported on Cinco de Mayo street. The 49-year-old photojournalist was shot in the head and was lying next to his car. The weekly Zeta reported that, according to witnesses, the person who shot him was a neighbor - identified as "Juan." The newspaper La Jornada reported that Esquivel Martínez was a beneficiary of the Mechanism for the Protection of Journalists and his inclusion in the federal protection mechanism was being considered by the Ministry of the Interior. The journalist was confronted on December 13 by a former police officer who currently disseminates information on a Facebook page. On February 25, the Secretary of National Defense, Luis Cresencio Sandoval, reported the arrest of five alleged perpetrators in the murder of the photojournalist. He said the men were arrested for possession of drugs and weapons. Three people are being prosecuted - the motive is unknown.
On January 23, Lourdes Maldonado was murdered in Tijuana. She was shot as she arrived at her home in Santa Fe - a Tijuana neighborhood. The journalist had asked President López Obrador for protection during one of his morning conferences in 2019. Maldonado had won a labor lawsuit against the company PSN - owned by ex-governor Jaime Bonilla - for owed payroll payments.
On January 31, Roberto Toledo was murdered. He was shot in front of his office in the Moctezuma Oriente neighborhood, in Michoacán, by three gunmen who attacked him at point-blank range and fled. He died hours later in a hospital in Zitácuaro. The Michoacán Public Prosecutor's Office has opened an investigation to clarify the crime - two motorcycles allegedly used by the killers have been seized.
On February 10, Heber López was murdered. Two men shot him as he was about to enter a house in the coastal city of Salina Cruz, Oaxaca. He was director of the Noticias Web portal. He reported on corruption and crime issues. He was known for his highly critical tone. López, 39, had founded and directed the digital media NoticiasWeb and RCP Noticias. He had previously worked as a reporter for the television station Meganoticias. Police arrested two people.
On February 24, Jorge Camero Zazueta - director of the portal El Informativo and contributor to Radar Sonora and radio station Red 93.3 in Empalme, Sonora - was murdered. He was shot three times while he was in a gymnasium. Two people have been linked to the murder and there is a possible motive for the crime.
On March 4, Juan Carlos Muñiz was murdered in Fresnillo, Zacatecas. He was a police reporter for the website Testigo Minero. He alternated his work as a reporter and cab driver in the municipality where his body was found. The State Prosecutor's Office activated the Homologated Protocol for the Investigation of Crimes Committed against Freedom of Expression and announced that it had contacted the Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists of the Ministry of the Interior. One person has been arrested and the motive is unknown.
On March 15, Armando Linares was murdered in his home in Zitácuaro, Michoacán. He was a partner of Monitor Michoacán, and after the murder of Roberto Toledo had reported that threats against the newspaper were increasing.