For the last two decades, journalists have been confronted with the fact that you can be killed simply for doing your job, for investigating subjects that someone finds inconvenient. The authorities do not seriously investigate these crimes — 95 percent of the cases since 2011 remain unsolved. Journalists have become more anxious about their safety and their future, struggling with the trauma of losing colleagues.
The opening months of this year have not been easy. In the first five months of 2022, 11 Mexican journalists have been killed, most probably because of their profession: José Luis Gamboa Arenas, Alfonso Margarito Martínez Esquivel, Lourdes Maldonado López, Roberto Toledo, Heber López Vásquez, Juan Carlos Muñiz, Jorge Camero, and Armando Linares López. Luis Enrique Ramírez Ramos was killed by multiple blows to the head in early May, his body wrapped in plastic and left on the side of the road. Just days later, Yesenia Mollinedo Falconi and Sheila Johana García Olivera — both of whom worked for the website El Veraz — were shot to death but it’s unclear whether their job was the motive.
The total since 2000 is now more than 150 murdered — at least a dozen of them women, according to Article 19, a human rights group that promotes freedom of expression around the globe. (Several were under official governmental protection.) Twenty-nine have disappeared in roughly the last two decades.
In late 2006, the violence toward journalists increased after newly elected president Felipe Calderón declared what he called the “war on drugs,” militarizing public security to confront the cartels. It was a strategy that has caused (and is still causing) thousands of deaths and made Mexico a powder keg.
Since then, Mexican journalists have become war correspondents in our own land. The victims have been local reporters — only two murders have occurred in Mexico City — who mainly covered policing, organized crime, and political corruption, or have themselves lived in areas dominated by criminals. They have been killed in the course of their daily routines: outside their houses (sometimes in front of their children), outside of newsrooms, or in places they commonly frequent.