Journalist killed in Mexico, eighth this year – Reuters

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Another journalist was shot dead in Mexico on Tuesday, the eighth this year in an unprecedented string of killings that have made Mexico the most dangerous place in the world for the press.

This year, reporters and photographers are being killed in Mexico, almost one a week, despite government claims that the situation is under control.

Prosecutors in the western state of Michoacán said journalist Armando Linares was shot dead in a house in the town of Zitacuaro. His murder came six weeks after the murder of Roberto Toledo’s colleague from the same media outlet Monitor Michoacan. It was Linares who announced Toledo’s death on January 31 in a video posted on social media.

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Zitacuaro is one of the cities closest to the monarch butterfly’s wintering grounds in the mountains west of Mexico City.

The area is plagued by illegal logging and drug gangs, disputes with local authorities, and deforestation associated with the expansion of avocado production. Clearing has damaged pine and spruce forests where butterflies winter after migrating from the US and Canada.

Linares was the director of the Monitor Michoacan website, which continued on Tuesday with an article he wrote about a cultural festival dedicated to monarch butterflies.

Photos of the murdered journalists are displayed on the door of the office of the Attorney General of Mexico during a protest against the murder of journalist Heber Lopez in Mexico City, Monday, February 14, 2022. Lopez, who was director of the online information site Noticias Web, was shot dead on Thursday, February 10, in the coastal town of Salina Cruz, Oaxaca. The Committee to Protect Journalists declared the last six weeks “the deadliest for the Mexican press in more than a decade.” (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
(AP)

There was no immediate information on a possible motive for the murder.

Toledo, cameraman and video editor for Monitor Michoacan, was shot dead on January 31 while preparing for an interview with Zitacuaro.

At the time of Toledo’s death, Linares told The Associated Press that he had received several death threats after participating in a government program to protect journalists.

When asked who he thinks is behind the threats, Linares said that “they are posing as an armed group, they are posing as a criminal gang. We can’t verify if it’s true that they are this armed gang.”

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Criminals in Mexico often pretend to be part of a drug cartel to instill fear in their victims, whether they are or not.

“We have organized crime, just like the rest of the country, and Monitor has been working on a lot of issues, like illegal logging, given that we are close to the Monarchs Reserve,” Linares said in early February. “We have written extensively about illegal logging, as well as many issues such as corruption in municipal governments. »

Drug cartels in Mexico often make money protecting illegal logging or extorting protection fees from avocado growers.

“The nightmare for the press in Mexico continues,” media group Reporters Without Borders wrote on their social media accounts.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has reacted angrily to global criticism of the killings.

In February, López Obrador said US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was misinformed after Blinken wrote, “I join those calling for greater accountability and protection for Mexican journalists.”

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López Obrador claims that the government is investigating all murders and has suggested that Blinken received disinformation from other US agencies, mentioning the CIA, the FBI and the DEA.

“They are deceiving him,” he said. “We will not tolerate anyone’s impunity. »

And last week, López Obrador reacted angrily to the European Parliament’s criticism of the killings of journalists in Mexico, accusing the Europeans of a “colonialist mentality.”

FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador speaks during a commemoration ceremony in Mexico City's main square, Zócalo, August 13, 2021. President López Obrador said Wednesday, February 16, 2022 that prominent journalists such as Univision's Jorge Ramos and Carmen Aristigui, one of Mexico's most famous journalists is expected to release information about her salary.  (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, file)

FILE – Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador speaks during a commemoration ceremony in Mexico City’s main square, Zócalo, August 13, 2021. President López Obrador said Wednesday, February 16, 2022 that prominent journalists such as Univision’s Jorge Ramos and Carmen Aristigui, one of Mexico’s most famous journalists is expected to release information about her salary. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, file)
(AP)

The President of Mexico criticized the EU’s support for Ukraine and called the MEPs “sheep”.

“Unfortunately, you are voting like sheep to join the reactionary and putschist strategy of a corrupt group opposed to the Fourth Transformation,” as López Obrador calls his administration, he wrote in an open letter to parliament.

Last Thursday, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on López Obrador to stop his harsh verbal attacks on journalists who criticize him and ensure their safety.

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Newsgroups say Lopez Obrador’s daily criticism of journalists, whom he calls “conservatives” and “mercenaries,” makes them more vulnerable to violence.

In February, the Inter-American Press Association called on the president to “immediately stop attacks and insults, as such attacks from above encourage violence against the press.”

The EU resolution “calls on the authorities, and in particular the highest levels, to refrain from publishing any message that might stigmatize human rights defenders, journalists and media workers, stir up an atmosphere against them or distort the direction of their investigation.”

Journalists are often targeted by Mexican drug cartels who seek to intimidate and manipulate coverage of their activities and their rivals. Local politicians and government officials are also often implicated in killings, according to the government, which has acknowledged impunity for such killings in excess of 90%.

In early March, gunmen killed Juan Carlos Muñiz, who was covering crimes for the online news site Testigo Minero in the state of Zacatecas.

Jorge Camero, director of an Internet news site who was until recently a municipal employee in the northern state of Sonora, was killed in late February.

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In early February, Heber Lopez, director of the online news site Noticias Web, was shot dead in the southern state of Oaxaca.

Journalist Lourdes Maldonado Lopez was found shot to death in her car in Tijuana on January 23.

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Crime photographer Margarito Martinez was gunned down outside his home in Tijuana on January 17.

Journalist José Luis Gamboa was killed in the state of Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico on January 10th.

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