The relentless slaughter of Mexican journalists has continued after two more journalists were shot dead by unidentified killers – bringing the death toll to 11 in 2022 in what is the deadliest country for media workers outside of Mexico. a war zone.
Yesenia Mollinedo Falconi and Sheila Johana García Olivera were murdered in the town of Cosoleacaque, about 350 miles east of the Mexico City capital, around 3 p.m. Monday.
According to reports, Mollinedo, the editor of a weekly called El Veraz, and García, a journalist, were shot inside their Ford Ikon outside a roadside convenience store.
“They horribly and cowardly murdered a fellow journalist,” said a local reporter. announcement in a video dispatch from the scene of the crime, as security forces armed with rifles surrounded the area.
Mollinedo and García are just the latest in a succession of Mexican reporters to lose their lives this year in what is a growing scandal that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been accused of failing to properly address.
In fact, many critics believe that López Obrador, a media-bashing populist known as Amlo, is fueling the violence with his relentless public attacks on journalists whom he has branded as ill-intentioned conservative “mercenaries” bent on undermining his nationalist administration.
Attacks on the press jumped 85% in the three years since Amlo took power in December 2018, with every Mexican state witnessing such incidents for the first time in 2021.
Seven journalists have been killed in the past year, compared to 11 in the first five months of 2022.
“Every day [Amlo] urges society to discredit the journalism profession – and we are clearly paying the price in blood,” said Sonia de Anda, a Tijuana-based journalist who recently confronted the Mexican president over the killings.
Tijuana, which sits on the US border near San Diego, has suffered the most this year, with two prominent journalists murdered outside their homes since January: photojournalist Margarito Martínez Esquivel and television journalist Lourdes Maldonado.
The government has blamed both murders on people linked to the Arellano-Félix crime cartel – but many are skeptical.
“Tijuana has a pretty long history of catching someone who might have had the gun in their hand, but not hitting the person who was actually responsible,” said Michael Lettieri, a researcher and human rights activist based in San Diego. Tribune this week.
Speaking earlier this year, Adela Navarro Bello, director of the weekly Zeta de Tijuana, said: “Right now the Mexican press is caught in the crossfire between threats and bullets from drug traffickers and organized crime. and threats and verbal attacks and attempts to morally obliterate us from federal and state governments.
“When a journalist is murdered, it’s not just the family that loses their loved one…society also loses,” added Navarro Bello, whose publication did not put a journalist’s name on a investigative reporting since 2006 lest he be shot. “When a journalist is murdered, society becomes a little more blind and a little more deaf.”
The attorney general’s office for the state of Veracruz, where Cosoleacaque is located, insisted Monday’s killings would not go unpunished. “All investigative leads will be pursued, including any link to their journalistic activities,” he added. mentioned on Twitter.
However, activists say there is impunity for 90% of these crimes and see little sign of change.
Griselda Triana, a journalist whose crime reporter husband Javier Valdez Cárdenas was murdered five years ago, was among dozens of protesters who took to the streets of Mexico City Monday afternoon to protest the tsunami of murders.
“It’s so easy for them to kill a journalist,” Triana lamented, recalling how her family was shattered by her notorious 2017 shooting in Culiacán state. “Sometimes they threaten them, sometimes the victim gets no warning and they just get rid of them. Justice takes too long or never comes at all.
“It’s a feeling of helplessness,” said Pablo Pérez, a Mexican producer for Al Jazeera who was also present at the protest. “Eleven [murders] is heartbreaking and the naturalness of knowing that before long there will be another murder is absurd.
Jordi Lebrija, a journalist from Tijuana who was friends with Margarito Martínez, noted that almost all of the journalists murdered this year were, like him, killed outside their homes.
“It’s a message. Even outside your home you are not safe,” Lebrija said as he stood at the spot where Martínez died. ” We watch you. We know who you are. We know what you are doing. This is the message for journalists.