▲ Photos of journalists who have been killed or missing are displayed in front of the Presidential Palace in Mexico’s capital, Constitution Square. ⓒ Articulo 19
Again, two reporters were killed.
It was only four days after the murder of journalist Luis Enrique on May 6th. This time it was two female reporters. Yessenia, 45, and Johana, 33. While driving in a small town in the southern state of Veracruz, facing the Atlantic Ocean, he was shot and killed by several armed men in close proximity. Their deaths accounted for 10 and 11 journalists assassinations in 2022, respectively.
The murders of journalists in Mexico are already infamous. It ranks third in the world after Syria and Iraq. Unlike the previous two countries, Mexico has neither been at war nor in the midst of a war. More than 150 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000.
In just over three years since the inauguration of the current president in December 2018, 52 journalists were killed. 48 people were killed during the tenure of former president Enrique Peña (2012-2018) and 47 people during the tenure of former president Felipe Calderón (2006-2012).
Considering that the current government’s remaining term of office is still close to three years, it is a much higher number than the previous president’s tenure. The killing of journalists is getting more and more intense. A total of 9 reporters were killed in 2021 last year, but 11 journalists have already lost their lives at the hands of someone in five months this year.
▲ A non-profit organization called Articulo 19 has kept a record of the journalists killed in Mexico every year since 2000. In each column, the name of the journalist who was killed and the media company he belonged to are written on it. ⓒ Articulo 19
formula for killing journalists
Their death is uniform. They usually receive death threats before death. It can be 2-3 days or even years. The uniform reason for intimidation is that he wrote an article that made someone uncomfortable. So, the only way to stop the blackmail is to withdraw the previous article or stop writing the article. Usually, those who are inconvenienced by the articles converge as a drug cartel called ‘Narco’. This is the general view inside and outside Mexico of the journalist killing.
All sins are directed against Narco and everyone, except for Narco, is forgiven. Even if the public authorities in the system, which do not have the ability to solve cases, do not rush forward, a tacit agreement is naturally made towards the public enemy. Whatever the truth or the outcome, it is beneficial to Narco, who wants to create fear by being wrapped up in brutality, the public authorities incapable of solving the case, and the person who actually killed the reporter.
But in fact, it is not. 40-50% of the death threats and murders against journalists are related to politicians or people who have been working as indigenous forces for a long time based on economic and political power. In the case of the murder of a journalist, there is no evidence as the unsolved rate has reached 95%. However, considering that the articles that the assassinated reporters dig into to the end were about the corruption and corruption of politicians and businessmen, the heartbreak becomes clear. In fact, according to one study, in smaller provincial cities, politicians are more likely to be involved in the killing of journalists than to organized crime such as ‘narco’. Of course, it may be meaningless to divide between the two in a place where it is publicly known that some politicians are already ‘narcos’ or have a deep relationship with them.
Reporters who predicted death ‘next is my turn’
Although there is still no evidence, it is difficult to deny that the death of Luis Henrique, who was murdered on May 6th and was found dumped in a garbage bag and dumped on the side of the road, also had a connection with a local politician. Death threats against him, who worked as a journalist for nearly 40 years in Culiacan, Sinaloa, said to be the home of ‘Narco’, have continued since 2011. When his fellow investigative colleague was murdered in 2011, he himself formulated the phrase ‘next is my turn’. It was said that it would be no wonder at any time that he was killed.
After the assassination of a fellow journalist, he briefly left Sinaloa on the advice of the Journalists Association, but eventually returned and lost his life there. For the past 10 years, he predicted his own death and continued to leave behind the words that could lead to his death. Behind the saying, ‘I don’t write articles about them (Narco), I don’t talk about them for good or for bad’, I don’t know when, but the intention was to make it clear that my death at least had nothing to do with them.
▲ On May 6, 2022, news of the murder of journalist Luis Henrique, found dead in a garbage bag, appeared on the front page and on several pages of the newspaper where he had worked for more than 40 years. ⓒ Los Noticieristas
After a colleague was murdered, he continued to write articles, predicting his own death. While working as a journalist for over 40 years, he received 14 domestic and international journalist awards or reporter awards, but in the end he could not avoid being murdered. As long as his article contained content that made someone uncomfortable, it would have been unavoidable.
The last article he wrote was about corruption in public money by members of the National Action Party (a conservative party with a right-wing orientation) constituency. It was April 28, 2022.
Lourdes, who was assassinated on January 23 in the northern state of Baja California in northern Mexico, was also killed in a fierce court battle over his unfair dismissal against the region’s former governor. On January 19, four days before her assassination, Lou Le Des won a lawsuit against her former employer and governor of the state, Jaime Bonilla. As he left the courtroom, he gave an interview that would reveal why he was unfairly fired and how the former governor’s tax portal worked behind the scenes. And four days later, on his way home in his car, he was baptized with dozens of bullets and was killed.
Lourdes also received death threats from ‘someone’ for a long time. In January 2019, at the daily press conference at the Presidential Palace, he asked the president to protect himself by any means he was receiving as he was being threatened with death as a reporter. Of course, he received a promise to protect his life from the then president, but he was eventually killed.
Even if you’re not a journalist, the average number of people killed in Mexico 24 hours a day is already over 100. So, even if it’s a journalist’s death, there’s nothing special about it. Moreover, some of the journalists killed have been themselves involved in drug cartels or political corruption. In fact, the Fiscalía Especializada en Delitos contra la Libertad de Expresión, which was established in Mexico in 2010 following a UN recommendation, is about 30% of the 1,719 cases of murder and violence against journalists received between 2010 and June 2021. It was announced that only about that occurred during the process of performing his job as a reporter.
Nevertheless, the reason the Mexican journalist murders are causing serious concern not only in Mexico but also in the world press is that many of the journalists killed are losing their lives because they tried to uncover the truth. This is because he suffers from death threats for a long time because he has been on the good side in a clear battle between good and evil, and eventually leads to death. Even if only one person dies, the good truth dies with their death.
‘I fluttered too much’ message
Two journalists who lost their lives in Mexico in March and May 2017 are a classic example. On March 23, 2017, Miroslava, a journalist who was shot and killed eight times while driving her son to school in a car, was a reporter for La Jornada, a leading Mexican daily.
▲ In March 2017, after the assassination of journalist Miraslova, protests took place in Mexico City, the capital of Mexico, demanding that justice be applied to the investigation of his death. Three years later, the suspect was arrested and sentenced to 50 years in prison. Nevertheless, many questions remain about the suspect’s intent and background. ⓒ BBC News
During his 30-year career as a reporter, he focused on the human rights of indigenous peoples and families of missing persons, and naturally, he was expanding his coverage to corruption of politicians and drug gangs. At the time, the governor of Chihuahua, northern Mexico, discovered that he was involved in a drug cartel and received death threats several times while covering the case, and eventually died in a vehicle with his son.
The assailants who shot at the time left a message on the vehicle that was hit, saying that they were fluttering too much and slowly disappeared. Regarding her death, the media published articles under the title ‘The Death of Miroslova, an Inconvenient Journalist’.
▲ After the assassination of journalist Miraslova, journalist Javier posted the following on his Twitter account: ‘If Miroslova’s death is a death sentence that is fatal to living as a journalist in this hellish place, then kill us all, we will never shut up’. © Javier Valdez Twitter
Reporter Javier Valdez came out on Miroslova’s death. In an interview with media from around the world, he wrote on his Twitter account, “If the death of Miro Slova is a death sentence that is fatal to living as a journalist in this hellish place, we would rather kill us all, we will never shut up.” message was published.
Like Miroslova, a cry like Javier’s scream would have felt like a fluttering noise enough to cause inconvenience to some. In the end, Javier was also shot and killed in just two months.
Journalist Javier was awarded the International Press Freedom Award from the Comitte to Protect Jorunalist in 2011. Speaking of her award ceremony in front of journalists around the world, she repeatedly asked the world to pay attention to how dangerous Mexican journalists are covering them.
His main focus was on drug cartels. It was also active in the state of Sinaloa, one of the headquarters of the drug cartel, so it was an activity as if he had given up his life a long time ago. He often said to himself, ‘A journalist in Mexico is someone who has already been sentenced to death.’
▲ The cover of a book containing the close relationship between the Sinaloa drug cartel and the local media, which journalist Javier has been tracking for a long time. It was published shortly after he was assassinated. ⓒ amazon
His research results have already been published in several books, among which his representative work is
▲ After the assassination of journalist Javier, colleagues continue to do the work he has been doing. In the window of the newspaper, the results of the coverage so far are drawn as the black money flow of the Sinaloa drug cartel. ⓒ BBC News
On May 15, 2017, he was shot while leaving his workplace, a newspaper. It was the moment when another ‘uncomfortable reporter’ disappeared. The plan of someone who would have made him uncomfortable was meticulous. Exactly 12 gunshots rang out and 12 bullets lodged in his body. It was a mockery of the
▲ The death of journalist Javier Valdez. On May 15, 2017, he was shot as he left the newspaper where he had been a lifelong journalist. It was exactly 12 feet. It was a moment when another ‘uncomfortable reporter’ disappeared, and it was a mockery of the newspaper that he was writing to reveal the truth. A number plate was placed in the place where 12 bullet casings were scattered around his body. ⓒ BBC News
The truth buried with the death of a journalist
In the case of the murder of a journalist, the suspects are tracked and arrested, and only 5% of cases are sentenced to death. The remaining 95% of cases are still in the labyrinth. It is because they do not have the strength to conduct an investigation, and it is not easy to have the courage to conduct an investigation. The fact that over 2,500 police officers have been killed in the past five years proves this situation.
In August 2020, three years after Miroslova’s assassination, the suspect was arrested and sentenced to 50 years in prison. The arrests and executions of suspects are extremely rare, so domestic and foreign media sent encouraging messages. On the same day, the British press, the BBC, also welcomed the news of the former Miroslova murder suspect, but subsequently commented that the real culprit who ordered the suspect would still be looking for another ‘uncomfortable reporter’ somewhere in Mexico.
On May 16, 2022, the Spanish daily
▲ Every year on May 15, various events are held to commemorate Javier, a journalist who was murdered in 2017, and at the same time, many journalists gather to call for a fair resolution of the murder case that is still in the labyrinth. ⓒ RIODOCE