When the president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took over the presidency in December of 2018, one of his promises was to protect journalists and activists that were being killed. He placed under protection approximately 478 thousand journalists and activists, however, 9 journalists that were killed recently were part of this protection program. Thus, it is inevitable to question how efficient his program was, now that Mexico is in the way of registering one of the most violent years in its history. Correspondingly, the European Parliament urged the president to stop his media-bashing rhetoric. With this narrative he is causing the denigration and polarization of the work of many media owners, activists, and journalists. Simultaneously, Andres Manuel responded that Mexico is no longer a colonial country and does not need to respond to neoliberal accusations done with a colonial mindset.
Since the War on Drugs broke out with former ex-president Felipe Calderon, Mexico has been reported as one of the most dangerous places for journalists. From 2006 to 2021, 149 journalists were killed and 14 reported as missing. As a result, on March 5th of the current year, the Encuentro Nacional de Periodistas (National Summit of Journalists) was called to session in the state of Chiapas. In the summit, it was revealed that the main perpetrators of such atrocious attacks are mostly public officials at the municipal and federal levels, who tend to be colluded with organized crime groups. Hence, almost all the attacks are not being persecuted legally because authorities are part of them, which at the same time skyrockets the levels of impunity of the country.
Furthermore, while the impunity reported for journalists’ killings is in 90%, the impunity for activists that defend human rights is in 99%; only 2 murders have resulted in an effective sentence. The attacks to both are mainly in the State of Mexico, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sonora, Oaxaca, and Veracruz, which happen to be the states that have more presence of cartels within. In Mexico activists that take a stand publicly for any cause are in danger without disregards for the cause they fight for.
Activists fighting to stop climate change, for LGBT+ rights, for women rights, and for indigenous rights are all targeted. Amnesty International in 2018 recorded 108 murders of activists in Mexico in a decade, of which 86 were indigenous. In addition, not all the efforts of silencing end in killing, but they do encounter awful aggressions. Also in 2018, 95% cases of criminalization were registered in Mexico, where several cases of imprisonment happened.
At the same time, organized crime, corruption, and impunity are not the only reasons why journalism and activism are pushed towards the edge. Sadly, it is common that citizens do not know or understand the importance of such professions. They do not just argue and challenge rules but inform and push governments to stay just and accountable. They stop politicians from diminishing citizens to just a number and always remember the humanitarian side of things. Often, they empower nationals to take action towards achieving a country that is safe for all. Moreover, activists and journalists combat the sentiment of helplessness and restore hope for the citizens.
Nowadays, Mexico is considered the world’s most dangerous country for journalists and activists that is not in an active armed conflict. Likewise, as long as the militarization of the country continues, the repression, especially of the opposition, will continue to happen; each time more violently. Nevertheless, the repression happening each time is more difficult to hide from the rest of the population. If journalists and activists continue to be targeted is because governments do not want to be held accountable, they do not want the citizens to be awaken. Evoking the famous phrase of protest “killing the journalist, won´t kill the story or the truth”.