Feb 4, 2022 - World

Mexican journalists unwavering after spate of killings

A wall showing pictures of slain Mexican journalists with a sign that says "we demand justice"
Names and photos of killed journalists in Mexico, including Lourdes Maldonado (top right), killed in January. Photo: Luis Barrón/Eyepix Group/Future Publishing via Getty Images

The killing of journalist Roberto Toledo in Mexico on Monday — the fourth reporter killed in a month — underscores the growing dangers journalists there face even as the government says it's going after the perpetrators.

Why it matters: The slain journalists were local reporters who often investigated malfeasance, cartels or links between politicians and criminal organizations.

The big picture: In 2021, for the third consecutive year, Mexico was deemed the most dangerous country outside of war zones for journalists.

  • At least 148 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000 for doing their jobs, 28 of them since December 2018, when President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s term began.
  • Experts say the murders and attacks continue because almost all go unpunished
  • There were 362 armed threats made against reporters last year, once every 13 hours, says defense group Article 19.

Driving the news: Journalists all over Mexico marched last week to demand justice, and the López Obrador administration said on Thursday that it would soon announce arrests in the killings of two Tijuana journalists.

Between the lines: In 2012, the federal government created a program that gives reporters bodyguards or a panic button for help.

  • Activists say it falls short. In one case, the police forces that got pinged were the ones that threatened the reporter to begin with.
  • Over 400 journalists are enrolled in the program, including Lourdes Maldonado, who in 2019 told López Obrador she feared for her life. She was killed last month in Tijuana.

López Obrador promised protections for journalists, but has also likened reporters who publish unflattering stories to “pimps” and “mercenaries,” which activists say has created a stigma.

What they’re saying: “It scares me, but I’m not going to back down because we have to keep reporting — that’s my job,” reporter José Ignacio Santiago Martínez, who survived being shot at last week in Oaxaca, told Noticias Telemundo.

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