21 February 2023

IAPA Condemns Harassment of Mexican Journalists and Media Outlets

Urges the Campeche governor to cease attacks.

Miami (February 21, 2023) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) rejected the persistent campaign of harassment being carried out by Layda Sansores San Román, governor of Campeche, Mexico, against the media and journalists. The organization urged the official to suspend the practice of smearing immediately to respect press freedom and the work of journalists.

From her television program "Martes del Jaguar," the governor has been carrying out continuous attacks against state and national media since 2022, as well as against journalists, insulting and slandering them and questioning their coverage. Among the most attacked media are Proceso, Grupo Fórmula, El Universal, Milenio, El Financiero, Imagen, Reporte Índigo, ADN, Tribuna Campeche, Televisa, and N+. The governor accuses them of disseminating information that she considers negative for her administration and those close to her, especially when they report acts of abuse of power and corruption. In addition, El Universal is accused of "political gender violence."

Among the journalists vilified by the governor are Ciro Gómez Leyva, Carlos Loret, Joaquín López Dóriga, Carlos Marín, Raymundo Riva Palacio, Ricardo Alemán, and Javier Tejado. This week, the governor filed a defamation lawsuit against journalist Fátima Monterrosa, a reporter for N+, whom she threatened in the "Fake News" segment of "Martes del Jaguar." He accused her of practicing "defamatory journalism" and linked her to a mafia cartel.

The media also linked the governor's stigmatization to physical attacks against journalists. Among these events, they mention the Molotov bomb attack against the home of Luis Mendoza Leciano, a contributor to various media in Campeche. In addition, Mendoza Leciano, Ángel Escamilla, and Carlos Martínez Caamal, who work in Campeche, reported in 2022 that they were victims of threats, attacks, and hate speech.

IAPA President Michael Greenspon, Global Director of Print Licensing and Innovation of The New York Times, USA, condemned "the dangerous, intimidating behavior" and called on the governor to immediately suspend the practice of smearing "because it often leads to physical violence."

The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, and editor of the Argentine newspaper La Voz del Interior, Carlos Jornet, said: "To prevent the negative effects of this type of campaign, we ask the national authorities to activate the journalists' protection and security system."

Greenspon and Jornet said that the IAPA would contact the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and its Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression to request precautionary measures for journalists.

The IAPA has criticized in reports on Mexico and resolutions the use of stigmatization as "a common practice of leaders and politicians in the Americas," which can lead to "hate messages, insults, threats and attacks against journalists."

In February of last year, the IAPA sent a letter to the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, urging him to suspend "all stigmatizing discourse against media and reporters." The IAPA stated that this practice, violating the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the IACHR, "represents today an incentive for the violent to unleash their murderous fury on defenseless journalists."

The latest report of the IAPA Chapultepec Index on press freedom ranks Mexico 17th out of 22 countries. Among the most significant press freedom problems, the Index highlights the country's president's ongoing smear campaign against journalists.

Twenty journalists were murdered in Mexico in 2022.

IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending and promoting freedom of the press and expression in the Americas. It comprises more than 1,300 publications from the western hemisphere; and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.