President López Obrador on Monday accused the newspaper Reforma of publishing propaganda after it reported that 56 activists had been killed in Mexico since the current federal government took office.
But the government’s own Interior Ministry (Segob) subsequently acknowledged that the real figure is in fact 68.
In a report published Monday, Reforma cited data from the human rights organization Front Line Defenders that showed that 24 activists were killed in 2019 and 20 were murdered last year. It added 12 murders of activists counted by the National Human Rights Commission in 2021 to arrive at the figure of 56, although the newspaper acknowledged that the number could in fact be higher.
Speaking at his regular news conference on Monday, López Obrador claimed that the figure of 56 murders of human rights and environmental activists was “propaganda of our adversaries disseminated by Reforma.”
He described the Mexico City-based newspaper, of which he is frequently critical, as a “bulletin of conservatism.”
The president asserted that a government program to protect human rights defenders and journalists that has been deemed at risk has not failed and is functioning as it should. The federal Ministry of the Interior, however, said in a statement issued later on Monday that seven journalists and two rights activists who were beneficiaries of the so-called “protection mechanism” have been killed since December 2018.
The ministry said a total of 43 journalists and 68 human rights defenders have been killed since December 1, 2018, the day on which López Obrador was sworn in as president.
Among those who have been murdered in the last 2 1/2 years are Baja California water rights activist Óscar Eyraud Adams, Chihuahua women’s rights activist Isabel Cabanillas de la Torre and Chiapas environmental activist José Luis Álvarez Flores, who worked to preserve the habitat of howler monkeys.
With reports from Animal Político