Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been battling negative media coverage about his administration’s track record on human rights. Reporters Without Borders ranks Mexico as the most dangerous country in the world for journalists.
The NGO Global Witness currently ranks Mexico as the most dangerous country in the world for environmental activists. Most killings of journalists and environmental activists in Mexico are never properly investigated. Lopez Obrador has, however, promised a swift and effective investigation into the high-profile disappearance of 43 students in 2014, an event that occurred during the presidency of his predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto.
The New York Times recently published an article criticizing Lopez Obrador’s management of the investigation, alleging that political pressure for a quick resolution was putting the validity of the investigation in jeopardy. Lopez Obrador’s response was predictable. Mirroring Donald Trump’s rhetoric and attitude, he lashed out at The New York Times. “It’s an article that came out in The New York Times. And, you already know what we think of these media outlets, right? Very famous, but also unethical and tied to political and business interest groups.
Imagine, The New York Times is involved in this, helping torturers. What kind of journalism is that? It’s journalism for power. Just articles like this, to protect interest [groups],” he said. Lopez Obrador’s harsh words for The New York Times fit a familiar pattern where he labels all of his critics including feminists, environmental activists, journalists, and NGOs as “conservatives.”
He has also accused the people behind the cancelation of his friend Donald Trump’s Twitter account of being “conservatives,” too. Lopez Obrador’s authoritarian intolerance for democratic discourse is worrisome especially considering the close ties he is cementing to Mexico’s military. In order to discuss the current political dynamic in Mexico, I reached out to Tyler Mattiace, a Mexico Researcher at Human Rights Watch.