Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador vowed to do more to protect journalists and activists, but government figures show scores have been killed during his time in office.
Mexican government figures released on Monday show that at least 68 human rights activists and 43 journalists have been killed since President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador came to office in late 2018.
These latest statistics have caused critics to question if the government is doing enough to keep its promise to safeguard the lives of journalists and activists in Mexico.
What is being done to protect journalists and activists?
The Mexican government is currently providing security and protection for 1,478 people throughout the country.
“From December 2018 until today, 43 journalists and 68 human rights activists have been murdered, of which seven journalists and two activists were under the protection program,” reported Mexico’s Interior Department.
According to the government, the protection program “is a guarantee of human rights protection organized by the Mexican State to safeguard the lives, integrity, freedom and security of those who practice journalism, protect human rights and freedom of expression.”
The government said it had increased the amount of people protected under the program by 80% since December 2018.
It said it had also provided 783 million pesos ($39.5 million; €33.3 million) to the program between 2019 and 2020, while this year it would be expanding the funds, giving it a total budget of 416.6 million pesos.
Mexican President Lopez Obrador said the government is “working every day to save lives” as part of the desire for “justice and protection of the Mexicansꞌ lives.”
Una vez más, AMLO no solo descalifica los informes sobre activistas asesinados en México como "propaganda", sino que asegura que su gobierno los está protegiendo.— José Miguel Vivanco (@JMVivancoHRW) July 12, 2021
Omite que, en 2020, su gobierno eliminó el fideicomiso que financiaba las medidas de protección para defensores. pic.twitter.com/1dpdgnO7bZ
Drug cartels, corrupt officials and business people are believed to be the main suspects for having ordered and carried out the killings.
What do Lopez Obrador’s critics say?
Jose Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch criticized the president’s remarks on Twitter.
“Once again, Lopez Obrador not only disqualifies the reports of the activists killed as propaganda but assures us his government is protecting them,” he said.
“He does not mention that in 2020, his government removed the trust that financed the protection program for their defense.”