United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken has expressed concern about violence against journalists in Mexico, becoming the first member of President Joe Biden’s cabinet to comment publicly on the issue.
“The high number of journalists killed in Mexico this year and the ongoing threats they face are concerning,” Blinken wrote on Twitter Tuesday night.
“I join those calling for greater accountability and protections for Mexican journalists. My heart goes out to the loved ones of those who gave their lives for the truth.”
Apparently referring to Blinken’s remark that a “high number” of journalists have been murdered this year, President López Obrador claimed on Wednesday that the secretary of state had been “misinformed.”
“Otherwise he would be acting in bad faith. What he’s maintaining is not true. Of course it’s very regrettable that there are murders of journalists. We already know that. [But] there is no impunity. They are not crimes of the state,” he said.
Although the president continues to insist there is no impunity the watchdog group Committee to Protect Journalists says 145 journalists have been killed since 2000, crimes for which the impunity rate is over 90%.
The number of journalists murdered in Mexico this year rose to six on Tuesday after television host and model Michelle Pérez Tadeo was found dead in Mexico City.
Blinken’s Twitter post came after U.S. senators Marco Rubio and Tim Kaine wrote to him earlier this month “to express deep concern about the ongoing killings of journalists in Mexico.”
“… The U.S. must urge the Mexican government to seriously improve efforts to protect journalists,” they said in a February 8 missive.
“… It has become increasingly clear that current efforts to protect journalists are inadequate and that the U.S. must work alongside Mexico to develop a more comprehensive plan to reduce the violence that destabilizes Mexico and specifically impacts journalists. This includes dramatically improving accountability for those who have sought to silence reporters,” Rubio and Kaine said.
The senators also said they were dismayed about López Obrador’s ongoing “bellicose rhetoric against the press.”
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz also recently spoke out about the risks faced by journalists in Mexico.
“The current climate faced by politicians and journalists in Mexico is the deadliest ever. In 2020 more journalists were killed in Mexico than in any other country in the world. It alone accounted for almost a third of the journalists killed,” he said during an address to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations last Wednesday.
“Since the start of the electoral period process in September 2020 over 80 politicians were assassinated by criminal organizations and more than 60 candidates suspended their campaigns under duress. President López Obrador seems intent on making all of these trends worse. On Friday [February 11] he used his morning press conference to intimidate one of Mexico’s highest profile journalists, Carlos Loret de Mola,” the senator said.
“… He seems to be indulging and abusing power no matter the effect on Mexico or the U.S.-Mexico relation.”
Cruz also said he was “deeply concerned about deepening civil unrest in Mexico and the breakdown … of civil society.”
“The breakdown of the rule of law across our southern border poses acute national security challenges and dangers to the United States, on issues ranging from counter-narcotics to illegal immigration,” he said.
López Obrador said last week it was natural that the Texas senator was “in opposition to the policies we are carrying out to benefit the people of Mexico.”
“It’s a point of pride that U.S. Senator Ted Cruz is setting himself against my administration. … If Ted Cruz praised me, maybe I would think that we are not doing things right,” he said last Friday.
On Tuesday, López Obrador described the lawmaker as “crooked” and a “busybody.”
“I would tell the Americans … to consider this man a busybody who is fostering discord. … To my American friends, our compatriots [in the U.S.], don’t trust this man Ted Cruz because he’s crooked. It’s as clear as that,” he said.