2022 is deadliest year on record for Mexican journalists

Dec 16, 2022, 5:59 PM | Updated: Dec 17, 2022, 8:03 am
FILE - Photos of slain journalists are displayed on a wall during a vigil to protest the murder of ...

FILE - Photos of slain journalists are displayed on a wall during a vigil to protest the murder of journalist Fredid Roman, outside Mexico's Attorney General's office in Mexico City, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. Roman was the 15th media worker killed so far this year in Mexico, where it is now considered the most dangerous country for reporters outside a war zone. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

(AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

              FILE - Relatives, friends and journalists stand vigil beside the coffin containing the remains of slain journalist Regina Martinez during her wake in Xalapa, Mexico. The 48-year-old correspondent for the investigative weekly Proceso was known for exposing abuse and corruption in an oil-rich state overrun by organized crime and a political system as opaque as its southern jungles. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez, File)
            
              FILE - Photos of slain journalists are displayed on a wall during a vigil to protest the murder of journalist Fredid Roman, outside Mexico's Attorney General's office in Mexico City, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. Roman was the 15th media worker killed so far this year in Mexico, where it is now considered the most dangerous country for reporters outside a war zone. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The deadliest year in at least three decades for Mexican journalists and media workers is nearing a close, with 15 slayings — a perilous situation underlined by a brazen near-miss attack this week on one of the country’s most prominent journalists.

Two gunmen astride a motorcycle shot up radio and television journalist Ciro Gómez Leyva’s armored vehicle 200 yards from his home Thursday night. The journalist described the attack and posted photos of his vehicle to social media.

Solidarity has grown among Mexico’s press corps amid the carnage, and its members are making increasing noise after each killing. They also have pushed back against a longtime government narrative that the victims weren’t real journalists or were corrupt.

Still, the killings — 15 counted by The Associated Press — have continued to rise.

This year, many of the dead were small town reporters running their own outlets on a shoestring. Others were freelancers, including for national publications, in big cities like Tijuana.

Also on Thursday, assailants took aim at journalist Flavio Reyes de Dios, director of an online news site in Palenque, a town in the southern state of Chiapas. A vehicle without license plates followed him and then ran his motorcycle off the road, injuring the journalist, the press advocacy group Article 19 said.

That incident drew little notice. But it was national news that shots were fired at Gómez Leyva, who is one of Mexico’s best known journalists. He is a regular critic of the government and a frequent target of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s tirades against press criticism.

Nevertheless, López Obrador on Friday condemned the attempt against Gómez Leyva. While acknowledging they had their differences, the president said, “It is completely reprehensible for anyone to be attacked.”

Jan-Albert Hootsen, the Mexico representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said that this year the only nation to see more journalists killed is Ukraine, which is fighting the Russian invasion.

“We started gathering data on homicides of journalists in 1992, and it’s been both the highest number of journalist killings in a single year, and we can also say that so far it looks to be the deadliest ‘sexenio’ (Mexico’s six-year presidential term), which means the deadliest period of a single Mexican president if the trend as things stand right now continues,” Hootsen said.

“Andrés Manuel López Obrador, both during the campaign and as president, has successfully politicized journalism in Mexico more than it has ever been in recent memory,” Hootsen said.

Katherine Corcoran, author of “In the Mouth of the Wolf: A Murder, a Cover-up and the True Cost of Silencing the Press,” said a big reason that journalist killings have remained stubbornly high in Mexico is that government officials are behind many of them.

“It’s some kind of government corruption that’s being threatened or some kind of government empire that’s being threatened when they go after these journalists,” said Corcoran, a former Associated Press bureau chief in Mexico.

The other factor is that Mexico’s press has become more independent and aggressive, she said. “The reporters really are hitting a nerve and that’s what’s getting them killed.”

Corcoran’s book focused on the 2012 killing one such journalist, Regina Martínez from the national news magazine Proceso. She said Martínez’s murder in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz overturned the government narrative that had long painted journalists who were killed as victims of their own corruption. Martínez was well-known, respected, ethical and believed to be beyond reproach.

Since Martínez was slain in April 2012, at least 86 other journalists and media workers have been killed in Mexico, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ data.

While there is more solidarity among Mexico’s journalists, they still receive little support from the Mexican public. When a journalist is killed, dozens of colleagues gather to protest, but there is generally not an outpouring of anger from society in general.

Corcoran said that stems from a long period when much of Mexico’s press was part of the government machine and took significant amounts of money in exchange for positive coverage.

“That idea of paying the press is going to haunt the press in Mexico forever, because it did exist and intermittently came back,” she said.

López Obrador frequently hammers that point during his daily news conferences. His administration cut much of those government payments and he says that is the reason he receives critical coverage. Much like former U.S. President Donald Trump did, López Obrador dismisses any critical press coverage as coming from corrupt reporters he calls his adversaries.

Last February, after five journalists had already been killed, the president said journalists “lie like they breathe.”

Still, Hootsen said there is not any evidence that federal officials in the current administration are behind violence targeting journalists. However, he said, “it is very disappointing to see that even though the government is not actively persecuting journalists, it has done very little to prevent the persecution of journalists by other actors, either state or non-state.”

In the absence of that protection, Mexican journalists have become much better prepared for situations of violence by creating formal and informal networks of support and rapid response, as well as strengthening ties to civil society organizations, he said.

But when there are attacks on journalists they seldom lead to arrests and even more rarely to convictions.

“In terms of impunity, we are still seeing just about the same numbers that we’ve always seen, which means that more than 95% of all the murders of journalists linger in impunity,” Hootsen said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Greek lawmakers in heated debate ahead of no-confidence vote

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s main opposition leader has slammed the country’s prime minister as a danger to the nation for his role in a wiretapping scandal that has stung the government in the runup to elections to be held later this year. Speaking Friday at the end of a three-day parliament debate on a […]
1 day ago
FILE - Britain's Chancellor Jeremy Hunt leaves 11 Downing Street to attend Parliament in London, Th...
Associated Press

UK Treasury chief: Tax cuts must wait for inflation to fall

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s Treasury chief said Friday that taming inflation is more important than cutting taxes, resisting calls from some in the governing Conservative Party for immediate tax breaks for businesses and voters. At a speech in London, Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt said “the best tax cut right now is a cut […]
1 day ago
Nikolai Romanov, a former monk known as Father Sergiy until he was excommunicated by the Russian Or...
Associated Press

Russian coronavirus-denying ex-monk sentenced to 7 years

MOSCOW (AP) — A former Russian Orthodox monk, who denied that the coronavirus existed and defied the Kremlin, was handed a seven-year prison sentence Friday. Nikolai Romanov, 67, who was known as Father Sergiy until his excommunication by the Russian Orthodox Church, urged his followers to disobey the Russian government’s lockdown measures and spread conspiracy […]
1 day ago
FILE - A man walks past U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong Monday, March 15, 2021. About 20% of Hong Kong'...
Associated Press

Hong Kong protests Biden extension of deportation protection

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong has protested President Joe Biden’s two-year extension of a program that protects residents of the semi-autonomous Chinese city living in the U.S. from deportation, accusing Washington of “demonstrating sinister intentions and hegemonic bullying.” An unidentified government spokesperson was quoted Friday as saying the U.S. had “wantonly” smeared Hong Kong’s […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

7 hurt, 2 missing in Polish vicarage explosion, collapse

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Firefighters in southern Poland say that seven people have been injured and two are missing after an explosion demolished half of an old Evangelical parish house in Katowice. Firefighters say the explosion Friday morning was most probably caused by gas that was used for heating and cooking in the three-story brick […]
1 day ago
FILE - Syrians walk through destruction in the town of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weap...
Associated Press

Watchdog blames Syria’s air force for deadly chlorine attack

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — An investigation by the global chemical weapons watchdog established there are “reasonable grounds to believe” Syria’s air force dropped two cylinders containing chlorine gas on the city of Douma in April 2018, killing 43 people. A report published Friday by a team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
2022 is deadliest year on record for Mexican journalists