The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network for independent journalism, today published a full-page print ad in The Washington Post calling on Mexico to end impunity for the many horrific killings of journalists in the country.
Since the start of 2022 alone, five Mexican journalists have been violently murdered, marking one of the darkest periods for the Mexican press in recent memory.
In today’s Washington Post, readers will find a full-page print ad from @globalfreemedia, a Post press freedom partner, calling on Mexico to #EndImpunity for the killing of journalists. pic.twitter.com/2GON3bVw1T
— The Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership (@wppressfreedom) February 16, 2022
On January 10, José Luis Gamboa Arenas was shot in the southeastern state of Veracruz. A week later, on January 17, photojournalist Margarito Martínez was shot in the head outside his home in the northern border city of Tijuana. Journalist Lourdes Maldonado was killed on January 23 in Tijuana, while camera operator Roberto Toledo was shot on January 31 in the city of Zitácuaro. And while Mexican journalists were still mourning the deaths of four of their colleagues, Heber López Vázquez was killed in Salina Cruz on February 10.
With these killings, Mexico maintains its deplorable status as the deadliest country in the world for journalists to work, just as in in 2021. At least 150 journalists have been killed in Mexico in the last 25 years, according to IPI’s Death Watch.
For Mexican journalists, there is no time to recover from the killings of their colleagues, Tijuana-based journalist Gabriela Martínez told IPI in an earlier interview. “We were still healing from the pain of our colleague’s death, and six days later, we needed to cry for another colleague? The violence is everywhere.”
There is an alarmingly insufficient response from authorities to killings of journalists. In Mexico, the vast majority of crimes against journalists go unpunished, fueling further violence. Other measures taken by the authorities remain woefully inadequate. Maldonado was part of a local government program to protect journalists in danger that failed to protect her in the end. Seven journalists enrolled in a similar federal protection program to protect journalists have been killed since 2018, according to reports.
In 2018, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel Lopéz Obrador made the promise to “end corruption and impunity”, but violence against journalists has not stopped since then. Instead, the president has become known for his verbal attacks on critical journalists. As recently as last Friday, February 11, López Obrador used his regular press conference to discredit a prominent media figure, Carlos Loret de Mola, by publicly speculating about the presenter’s income. A few days later, on Monday February 15, the president renewed the attacks by calling critics “thugs, mercenaries [and] sellouts”.
The recent killings sparked nationwide protests on January 25, 2022 in more than 40 cities across Mexico, calling attention to the killings and urging authorities to end impunity. With its ad in The Washington Post, which ran in the print edition on February 16, IPI expresses its full support for efforts to end impunity for the murders of journalists in Mexico.
IPI urgently demands that Mexican authorities conduct swift, thorough, and transparent investigations into the cases of murdered journalists, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “The killing spree against Mexican journalists to start 2022 has shocked the world, unprecedented even for those familiar with the country’s history of generalized violence against the press. Mexican authorities must find all those responsible for these murders, including and especially the ultimate masterminds. They must immediately introduce more robust measures to protect journalists at risk and ensure that these measures actually work. As our ad states, where journalists are not safe, neither is democracy.”
He added: “The IPI global network of members from around the world stands with the families and colleagues of Mexico’s slain journalists in demanding justice. This horrific pattern of violence and attacks on the fundamental right of Mexico’s citizens to news and disinformation must end.”
The ad is being run as part of The Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership, an ongoing initiative that aims to highlight organizations working vigilantly to promote press freedom and raise awareness of the rights of journalists worldwide.