José Luis Gamboa, Margarito Esquivel, Lourdes Maldonado, Roberto Toledo, Ernesto Islas and, Thursday February 10, Heber Lopez. They were journalists or photographers, and they paid for it with their lives.
In Mexico, reporters are regularly targeted by cartels or corrupt local governments linked to organized crime. But the wave of violence has taken on an unprecedented scale since the beginning of the year: every week, a journalist has been killed. At this rate, 2022 risks being synonymous with a new record. During the first three years of the mandate of Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, elected president in December 2018, 47 journalists were murdered in the country.
→ REREAD. In Mexico, three journalists killed in two weeks
On January 25, dozens of news professionals marched outside the Interior Ministry in Mexico City, placing pens and cameras on the ground in protest. With a slogan that Mexicans know only too well: “You don’t make the truth disappear by killing journalists. » According to Anel Ortiz, a security researcher at the Ibero-American University of Tijuana, a city notorious for its murders of reporters, “the aggressors are no longer afraid, since impunity reigns”. In Mexico, 91% of these crimes go untried.
An outdated protection mechanism
Most of the victims, however, benefited from the “mechanism for the protection of human rights defenders and journalists” set up under the mandate of President Felipe Calderon (2006-2012). Among the measures: close guard, an emergency button at home and protection courses.
“This mechanism is outdated, Advance Anel Ortizand it is not just a question of economics or human resources” : 60% of reporter murders are concentrated in six of the country’s 32 states. “The task of protecting them should be placed on the responsibility of state governors,” says Jorge Carrasco, the editor-in-chief of the investigative magazine Process. Currently, it is the federal power that centralizes the files.
A president who regularly attacks reporters
During its daily press conferences, the mananeras, President Lopez Obrador reiterates his support for the journalistic body, without announcing any measures other than a reform of the protection mechanism. The Head of State prefers to accuse his detractors who hold him to account: “They only think of taking advantage of people’s pain to harm us. »
Two years before his death, on January 23, in Tijuana, the journalist Lourdes Maldonado had herself challenged the president during one of his mananerasclaiming to be threatened by the former governor of Baja California.
The Mexican president regularly attacks reporters who criticize him. “The president does this to increase his popularity, sorry Jorge Carrasco. He takes journalists as adversaries. This is a dangerous strategy, because in the long run it ends up justifying this violence. » For researcher Anel Ortiz, “through these attacks, the president increases the vulnerability of the press”.
Far from feeling supported by power, the profession has the feeling that these threats finally settle largely corrupt politicians, who fear investigations by the local press. ” They do not understand the primordial social role of the press within a democracy,” sighs Jorge Carrasco.