The president’s accusations against Loret de Mola and other journalists generate a narrative that presents the press as an adversary, Article 19 warned.
(MEXICO – ARTICLE 19).- Despite the violence against the press in the country, which adds up to six journalists killed so far this year, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador described several communicators as “mercenaries” this Friday 11th, and exhibited the salary of the journalist Carlos Loret de Mola.
“The attacks against the press are an enormous political irresponsibility, when it has the obligation to call for peace and find solutions by opening up criticism so that the attacks against journalists cease,” the director for Mexico and Central America of the NGO Article 19, Leopoldo Maldonado.
Just this Thursday, reporter Heber López was shot dead inside his recording studio in the southern state of Oaxaca, becoming the sixth journalist to be killed so far this year, according to a count by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
And although López Obrador assured this Friday, during his morning press conference that there will be no impunity for López’s crime, in his speech he again attacked the press.
The president criticized by name Enrique Krauze, Héctor Aguilar Camín and Carlos Loret de Mola, who in his Latinus medium revealed that a son of the president, José Ramón López Beltrán, lived in 2019 in a house in Houston, Texas, of a government official the Baker Hughes Company, Petroleos Mexicanos contractor(Pemex).
Even López Obrador showed that, allegedly, Loret de Mola receives more than 35 million pesos a year (more than 1.7 million dollars) while the president only earns 2 million pesos (almost 97,500 dollars).
“The mafia of power hid for a long time the salaries of these famous journalists, who are not like you, they are hit-and-run journalists that the big communication companies have,” said the president.
After the president’s accusations, Loret de Mola assured on Twitter that what López Obrador said is false: “The president is cornered. He doesn’t know how to get rid of the scandal of his son’s house. And today he slanders me again and on top of that he puts me at risk by revealing inflated and false amounts of supposed income. It is very serious. It’s a crime. This would-be dictator is out of his mind.”
Maldonado considered that Mexico “is experiencing lethal violence against the press, of unprecedented proportions, and what we would expect from the Mexican government is a public condemnation. But there is not, there is no will to have a contingency plan”.
He recalled that López Obrador’s confrontation with the press has been constant, and even, on June 30, 2021, a section was opened in his morning conference where attacks on the press have intensified.
“Bending”, “corrupt” “unfair” “yellow” “conservative” are just some of the expressions that the president has launched into the press during his administration.
His statements have been condemned by organizations such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, the Inter-American Press Association or the Committee to Protect Journalists, which have even accused an abuse of power by the president by slandering and insulting, from his position, the press.
Risk for journalists
For Maldonado, launching attacks and stigmatizing those who exercise the right to freedom of expression only increases the risk for the work of these professionals.
“His speech causes other political actors to replicate his attacks. These actors feel empowered and allowed to attack in the face of a narrative that presents the press as an adversary. We are in a war speech, where the enemy must be annihilated, ” he said.
According to Signa Lab, an interdisciplinary laboratory of the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO), from 2010 to 2021, 1,200 attacks against women communicators have been registered.
But in the last three years (from 2018 to 2021), 769 cases of harassment, threats and attacks against journalists have been detected, which represents more than 64% of the cases compared to the same previous period.
For Maldonado, journalists not only suffer from the stigmatization that the president launches against the press, they are also the object of attacks on their social networks, especially from those who defend the so-called Fourth Transformation, the political project promoted by López Obrador.
During the first semester of 2021, Article 19 documented 362 attacks against journalists and the media, and the State is the main aggressor against the press with 134 attacks
Part of the attacks suffered by journalists are death threats, intimidation, harassment, physical attacks and news blackouts.
W Radio accuses Loret de Mola of intimidation
In response to López Obrador’s accusations, the radio company W Radio, where Loret de Mola collaborates, accused the president of intimidation and abuse of power.
“Displaying confidential data of a citizen violates the right to privacy enshrined in the Constitution, using State resources and the presidential investiture in retaliation for their work, constitutes an act of intimidation and abuse of power,” he indicated in a position.
“It is the obligation of the State to generate the essential conditions for journalistic practice, respect for freedom of expression and the right of society to be informed.”
The company considered that López Obrador’s statements are an alarming precedent, coming from the highest-ranking official in the Mexican government, and contribute to the climate of harassment and aggression in the midst of the largest crisis of violence against representatives of the press.