Reporters Without Borders (RSF) announced Friday that 2022 is already the deadliest year for journalists in Mexico after a month of August that left four more dead, bringing to 14 the number of reporters killed since the beginning of the year.
The organization, which has no record of such a high figure since the beginning of its counts, regrets this “sordid record” that has turned the situation of journalism in Mexico into a “drama that demands urgent action by the government.”
With these figures Mexico remains at the top, for the fourth consecutive year, of the list of the most dangerous countries for the exercise of the profession, ahead even of countries at war such as Ukraine (eight cases) or Yemen (three cases). Mexico, it should be recalled, is ranked 127th out of 180 in the RSF World Press Freedom Index 2022.
“The list of murdered journalists in Mexico is horrifying and seems to be inexorably lengthening without the federal government or local authorities taking charge of the dimension of the problem or making courageous decisions,” laments Emmanuel Colombié, director of the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Latin America bureau, Emmanuel Colombié.
Since the beginning of the mandate of the country’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in December 2018, RSF has counted at least 36 murders of journalists and two disappearances, those of Jorge Molotzin Centlal and Pablo Felipe Romero Chávez, in 2021, in the state of Sonora (in the northwest of the country, on the border with the United States).
The NGO qualifies that most of these murders are concentrated in states especially “gangrenados” by corruption and organized crime: Michoacán (southwest), and Sonora and Veracruz (southeast), with five cases each. In the vast majority of these 38 cases, “impunity,” regrets RSF, “is almost total.
The latest case took place this past Monday, when journalist Fredid Román was executed in Chilpancingo, capital of the state of Guerrero (south of the country). Román had just left his home in his vehicle when two individuals on a motorcycle opened fire on him before fleeing.
Román, editor of the local newspaper ‘Vértice’ and very critical of the Guerrero government and the corruption of local authorities, died on the spot. His nephew publicly blamed the murder on the local criminal gang Los Ardillos, which, according to him, had recently made several death threats against his uncle. Roman’s son was executed less than two months earlier, and the Guerrero Attorney General’s Office is looking into the link between the two cases.
Román thus became the fourth journalist to be murdered since the beginning of August, after Enesto Méndez, Juan Arjón López and Alán González, whose names sadly join those of José Luis Gamboa Arenas, Alfonso Margarito Martínez Esquivel, Lourdes Maldonado López, Roberto Toledo, Heber López, Jorge Luis Camero Zazueta, Juan Carlos Muñiz, Armando Linares López, Luis Enrique Ramírez and Antonio de la Cruz.
In addition to the Mexican federal government, RSF also urges local authorities such as Alfredo Ramírez Bedolla, governor of Michoacán; Cuitláhuac García Jiménez, governor of Veracruz; Evelyn Salgado, governor of Guerrero and Alfonso Durazo, governor of Sonora, “to strengthen their protection mechanisms for the press and to identify the material and intellectual authors of the murders recorded in recent years in their states,” it adds.