Deadly violence towards the press in Mexico continues unabated as two more journalists, Yesenia Mollinedo Falconi and Sheila Johana García Olivera, were found slain in the Mexican state of Veracruz on May 9. This brings the number of journalists in Mexico who have been killed so far this year to 11 — making the country as deadly for the press as the current war zone of Ukraine. IPI demands that the Mexican government take immediate action to stop this bloodshed and to secure the safety of the country’s journalists.
Mollinedo and García were shot dead by unidentified assailants while sitting in a car outside a convenience store in the town of Cosoleacaque. Mollinedo was the director of a weekly publication called El Veraz, where García also worked as a reporter. El Veraz operates on Facebook, where it shares information about the local municipality’s government and local events. The motto of the publication is “Journalism with Humanity”.
Veracruz State Prosecutor Verónica Hernández Giadáns said on Twitter that the crime will not go unpunished. The prosecutor’s office also tweeted that the investigation has already started, and all possible investigation lines will be examined, including the motive for the killing.
The killing of Mollinedo and García comes less than a week after the murder of veteran journalist Luis Enrique Ramírez, whose body was found on the side of a road in Culiácan, in the state of Sinaloa, on May 5. News of the killing of Mollinedo and García came as journalists were gathering for a demonstration in Mexico City to protest the killings of journalists, most recently Ramírez.
“We are shocked by the brutal killings of Yesenia Mollinedo Falconi and Sheila Johana García Oliver, which have come just days after the murder of vetern journalist Luis Enrique Ramírez”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “11 journalists have now been murdered in Mexico this year alone, a staggering and unbearable figure that reflects years of government failure in Mexico to hold those responsible for crimes against the press to account. We cannot become numb to this violence, which is a direct attack on democracy and the public’s right to the news. The Mexican federal and state authorities finally must act to end the cycle of impunity and protect the country’s journalists from further attacks.”
These latest murders put a spotlight on the escalating dangers for the press in Mexico, which rivals the war zone of Ukraine for the highest number of journalists killed in 2022.
According to Article 19, attacks on the press have skyrocketed since the current president Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office in 2018. The left-wing populist often unleashes verbal attacks on the media, which critics say has fanned the alarming upsurge in hostility and violence toward the country’s journalists. At least 35 journalists have been killed during his administration and only 10 percent of these have been resolved, according to Article 19.
In January 2022, thousands of journalists protested, demanding justice for their colleagues and calling on President Obrador to take actions to end the violence towards reporters. He has promised “zero impunity” over the killings of journalists in Mexico.
However in March 2022, Obrador angrily rejected a resolution passed by the European Parliament condemning the recent spate of violence against the press in Mexico and criticizing Obrador’s use of rhetoric “to denigrate and intimidate independent journalists, media owners and activists”.