Correspondent in Mexico City
“I come here to ask you for support, help and labor justice, because I even fear for my life.” With this illuminating and chilling phrase, the journalist Lourdes Maldonado, assassinated last Sunday, intervened on March 26, 2019 in the so-called ‘mañanera’, the daily speech offered by the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. On Sunday afternoon, while driving her car and heading to the entrance of her home in Tijuana, a dangerous border city with the US, the reporter lost her life. after being shot twice, which the neighbors heard as an intelligible rumble.
With his words to the president, Maldonado explained to AMLO with meticulous rigor the lawsuit he had with a local television station owned by the former governor of Baja California. Jaime Bonilla, belonging to National Regeneration Movement (Morena), the presidential party.
The reporter was immersed in a legal process for six years for unfair dismissal. “The car came out in my favor at the Federal Conciliation Board,” he said. “They returned the file and in three weeks it came out against me,” he also denounced, with notorious frustration. “I come here to ask for that support, that justice, and I do it because it is a strong character in politics,” he sentenced. “I can’t do anything without your support.”
The intrepid journalist made public last Thursday her victory in the lawsuit filed against the company First News System, belonging to former Governor Bonilla. “You cannot automatically link a labor-type lawsuit with a crime, it is not responsible to advance any trial,” AMLO tried to justify, after the news of the reporter’s murder was known.
Maldonado was a member of a special program for the protection of journalists in Mexico, but the surveillance offered to reporters is not permanent. In fact, this is the second journalist murdered in less than a week in Tijuana, after the death of margarito martinez, a photojournalist who covered security and police news, and who was also shot outside his home. Last Friday, two days before his death, Maldonado herself said a few words at the vigil held with other colleagues to honor Martínez’s memory.
death and impunity
According to all indications, the year 2022 will be one of the darkest for Mexican journalists. So far, there have already been three murders: that of Maldonado (January 23), that of Martínez (January 17) and that of Jose Luis Gamboa-Arenas (January 10), director of ‘Inforegio’, a digital medium in charge of publishing news about problems of insecurity and politics, and stabbed in Veracruz.
What’s more, MX Media Alliance, a nonpartisan civil association, has just denounced that a network of political groups planned the death of María Elena Ferral, one of the most famous journalists in Veracruz. After the murder of his partner Leobardo Vazquez, Ferral began to investigate the crime and found the culprits. Her investigations ended up costing her her life, because she was also shot on March 30, 2020, when she was leaving her notary’s office. His death was number 24 in the 25 registered in the Mexican state of Veracruz in the last ten years. Reporters Without Borders considers that region as one of the most dangerous in America to practice journalism. The Committee to Protect Journalists It also highlights that Mexico is the “deadliest country in the world for the press”, with seven violent deaths last year, and in which more than 90 percent of these murders go unpunished.