Mexico has made no progress on protecting journalists during AMLO’s six years as president

Under outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico has continued to be the country with the most murders of journalists – at least 37 since he became president. In the run-up to Mexico’s general elections on 2 June, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges all of the candidates to finally commit to concrete measures to protect journalists and combat impunity.

With at least 37 journalists killed and five disappeared during the almost six years that he has been president, López Obrador, who is also known as “AMLO”, has clearly failed to resolve this tragedy and to combat impunity for crimes of violence against journalists. During his inauguration speech on 1 December 2018, he nonetheless said: “There will be no more journalists murdered.”

His failure is beyond dispute. Aside from the appalling number of reporters who have lost their lives, no reform of the system for protecting journalists has been implemented despite the recommendations in this area from organisations such as RSF. Worse still, the president has continued to express hostility towards the work of the media on many occasions, especially during his daily morning press conferences.

“Andrés Manuel López Obrador is approaching the end of his presidential term leaving a tragic record resulting from the ubiquitous violence against journalists. He did not make their protection a priority and instead permitted a spiral of violence against the press and the rise of 'zones of silence,' causing an erosion of the right to information in Mexico. We therefore call on the candidates in the 2 June general elections to commit to finally taking concrete measures to protect journalists and combat impunity for crimes committed against them.

Artur Romeu
Director of RSF’s Latin America bureau

Journalism is a high-risk profession in Mexico. This is not new. Since 1995, at least 156 journalists –143 men and 13 women – have been murdered for investigating subjects involving organised crime, criminal violence or drug trafficking. Murders also took place under AMLO’s two predecessors, Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto, but the toll from AMLO's term contrasts shockingly with his statements when he took office.

The situation is particularly alarming in certain states, those with the worst figures in terms of criminal violence, and especially the three most dangerous states – Guerrero, Veracruz and Tamaulipas – where 66 of the journalists killed since 1995 were based – 42% of the total.

In 2019, RSF and Propuesta Cívica referred crimes of violence committed against 116 journalists in Mexico between 2006 and 2018 to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Since this referral, no action has been taken by the government.

Hopes are now pinned on the three presidential candidates – Claudia Sheinbaum, a member of the ruling coalition, Xóchitl Gálvez, representing the right-wing opposition, and Jorge Álvarez of the Citizens' Movement. While all three have referred repeatedly to violent crime and corruption during their campaigns, they have never talked about the tragic fate reserved for Mexico’s journalists. It is vital that they should include concrete measures for the protection of media personnel in their electoral programmes and campaign proposals.

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