A journalist who told the president she feared for her life three years ago was murdered in Tijuana on Sunday, the second murder of a media professional in a week in this northwestern Mexican border town. United States, authorities said on Monday.
Lourdes Maldonado Lopez was killed by a “firearm while she was in a vehicle,” the Baja California state attorney general’s office said in a statement. She “worked as a journalist”, added the prosecution, announcing the opening of an investigation.
Another journalist, photoreporter Margarito Martinez, was killed last Monday in the same town. He collaborated with the weekly Zeta, the daily Jornada and foreign journalists reporting in the region. The prosecution said it was not ruling out any motive in its investigation.
The journalist murdered on Sunday had worked for Primer Sistema de Noticias (PSN), a television channel belonging to Jaime Bonilla, governor of the state of Baja California from 2019 to the end of 2021, and close to President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
The victim had won a lawsuit a few days ago against PSN, which she had been suing for nine years for unfair dismissal.
In March 2019, she asked President Lopez Obrador for “support, help and justice”, claiming to have “fear for (his) life”, according to a video republished on social networks at the announcement of his assassination.
“I have been on trial for six years with him,” she added about Governor Bonilla, calling out the head of state during one of his press conferences. “With this powerful character, I can do nothing or very little without his support, Mr. President”.
President Lopez Obrador described Monday morning as “lamentable” the assassination of the journalist. “We must investigate thoroughly,” he added during his almost daily press conference.
He said he stayed in touch with the journalist after her intervention in early 2019.
“You cannot automatically link a labor law complaint to a crime,” he warned.
“Let’s not forget, that’s all I ask, that we are emerging from a period of decadence, and that violence began to manifest itself 20 or 30 years ago”, concluded the left-wing president invested at the end of 2018 by promising to break with the neo-liberalism of his predecessors whom he accuses of all evils (corruption, inequalities, violence).
A mobilization of journalists was announced for Tuesday evening in Tijuana and in many cities (Mexico City, Ciudad Juarez, Cancun, Monterrey, Acapulco…) under the slogan “#NiSilence, nioubli, We don’t kill the truth, journalism in danger “.
The delegate of the NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in Mexico, Balbina Flores, told AFP that it remained to be confirmed whether Ms Maldonado had official protection.
The RSF representative called on the authorities to investigate fully and transparently, while most murders of journalists remain unsolved.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said it was “shocked” by the latest killing.
At least seven journalists were killed in 2021 in Mexico, according to an AFP count, which tries each time to establish if the victim was still active, and if he was killed because of his journalistic work. .
This seems to be the case in the state of Veracruz (southeast), where a man presented as a journalist, José Luis Gamboa, was found stabbed to death on January 10, several sources said on Monday. “Gamboa had denounced and strongly criticized the local authorities for their relationship with organized crime,” according to RSF.
On his account followed by 1,070 subscribers, the victim presented himself as the “general manager” of three online publications. In one of his last articles at the end of December – in fact a long editorial – José Luis Gamboa denounced political actors “linked to organized crime”.
Mexico is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, exposed to reprisals from drug cartels operating in several of the country’s 32 states.
A hundred journalists have been killed since 2000, according to figures from the Commission on Human Rights.