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Mexico: Eighth journalist killed in 2022

March 16, 2022

Journalists in Mexico are being killed at the rate of almost one a week this year, despite claims from the government that the situation is under control.

Police vehicles and uniformed officers in Mexico
Archive image of Mexican authorities during a police operation against drug cartelsImage: Ivan Stephens/ZUMA Press/imago images

Another journalist had been murdered in Mexico just over a month after his colleague fell victim to the same fate, a prosecutor said.

The director of digital outlet Monitor Michoacan, Armando Linares, was found dead with gunshot wounds in a private apartment in Zitacuaro in the western state of Michoacan on Tuesday afternoon, the state prosecutor's office said.

Officials said they are investigating his death. 

Linares was found dead just six weeks after a camera operator and video editor for the same media outlet, Roberto Toledo, was attacked and shot by three people in Zitacuaro.

It was Linares who announced Toledo's death on January 31 in a video posted to social media.

At the time, Linares said Toledo had been killed over Monitor Michoacan's role in exposing corruption in politics, and that other colleagues had also been receiving death threats for months.

Mexico deadly for journalists

Mexico is considered one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, listed 143 out of 180 in Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index.

Last year the Mexican government released figures stating that over 100 journalists and activists have been killed between December 2018 and July 2021.

Last month, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the killings of journalists in Mexico this year, along with the threats they receive, as "concerning," and called for "greater accountability."

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador responded saying that Blinken had been misinformed: "They're tricking him [...] We don't tolerate the impunity of anyone."

The country's drug cartels often make money by protecting illegal logging, or extorting money from farmers in exchange for protection, posing a danger to journalists who report on those crimes.

Zitacuaro is one of the closest cities to monarch butterfly wintering grounds in the mountains west of Mexico City. The region had been taken over by illegal logging and drug gangs, and deforestation linked to the expanding production of avocados.

"We have organized crime, just like in the rest of the country, and Monitor worked on a lot of issues like illegal logging, given that we are near the monarch reserve,'' Linares said in early February.

He added: "We wrote a lot about illegal logging and also a lot of issues like corruption in the municipal government.''

The state's press protection plan had come under pressure this year after at least three of the journalists this year had asked the state for help before being killed. The system was introduced in 2012 to protect journalists and human rights defenders.

ft/sms (dpa, AP)