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A Mexican reporter who was being guarded by government officials was killed in an armed attack Saturday evening, according to authorities.
Fox News reported that Jorge Armenta, the director of media outlet Medios Obson, based in Ciudad Obregon in northern Mexico, was gunned down along a police officer who was also killed in the attack, according to information released by the regional prosecutor’s office. One other police officer was wounded.
Armenta is the third journalist to be killed in Mexico this year, the report noted.
The journalist had received death threats which resulted in him being assigned a government protective detail, according to media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said.
Sonora state Gov. Claudia Pavlovich Arellano said she’s ordered an investigation into the shooting “to establish and find those responsible for the reprehensible attack.”
He solicitado a la fiscal, Claudia Indira Contreras, se traslade a #Cajeme e inicie de inmediato las investigaciones para esclarecer y dar con los responsables del condenable ataque contra el director de Medios Obson, Jorge Armenta y 2 agentes de la policía municipal.
— Claudia Pavlovich A. (@ClaudiaPavlovic) May 16, 2020
Two armed assailants on motorcycles shot and killed journalist Maria Elena Ferrel in the eastern state of Veracruz in March.
The following month, the body of Victor Fernando Alvarez was found in Acapulco more than a week after he went missing.
In 2019 a dozen journalists were killed in Mexico, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which made it more dangerous for reporters than Syria. And ironically, Mexico even has a journalist protection program which was founded in 2012, according to NPR.
However, Sara Lidia Mendiola, who operates a legal advocacy organization for journalists called Propuesta Cívica, called the program inadequate last year.
“In the current climate of violence taking over the country, it isn’t enough,” she said.
Upon taking office in late 2018, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador pledged to address the rash of killings involving journalists. But activists like Mendiola say it’s been an empty promise thus far.
RSF has ranked Mexico high among the most dangerous countries for journalists outside of actual war zones. Mexico is currently 143 of 180 countries in terms of most hazardous for reporters, according to the group’s 2020 world press freedom index.
It’s not clear yet who killed Armenta, but for years, Mexico has had major violence problems stemming mostly from warring drug and smuggling cartels. Homicide rates routinely hit new records, and most killings go unsolved, NPR notes.
“As long as there is not a credible fight against impunity these murders against journalists are not going to stop,” said Mendiola, adding that 99 percent of journalist murders are never solved.
As for López Obrador, his relationship with the country’s media has even turned contentious at times.
Every weekday at 7 a.m., he gives a press conference that at times can last as long as two hours. During these press briefings, there have been terse exchanges between the Mexican president members of the press (sound familiar?).
In August 2019, the president sparred with a reporter from the magazine Proceso, leading him to say the outlet “has not behaved well with us” (again, does that sound familiar?).
That led the reporter, Arturo Rodriguez, to interject, “The role of the press is not to behave well with any one president, but to inform.”
López Obrador has also described the media in his country as “fifi” (slang for elitist) and too conservative, the latter of which is certainly not true of the American media.
But the criticisms, say some, only adds to the dangers reporters in Mexico already face.
“Such language is very dangerous in a country where the press is so vulnerable,” Homero Campa, an editor at Proceso, told NPR.
As for the cartel-related violence, President Donald Trump offered U.S. assistance to “wipe” them out after a group of American women and children were murdered last fall.
“This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president!” Trump tweeted.
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