Lourdes Maldonado: Another journalist, and something worse | Opinion

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On the stairs of the Ministry of the Interior, some reporters installed a small altar with images of journalists murdered in Mexico.
On the stairs of the Ministry of the Interior, some reporters installed a small altar with images of journalists murdered in Mexico.Hector Guerrero

The president of Mexico is so obsessed with exchanging daily grievances and grievances with the “conservative” press that he has lost the sensitivity to understand the magnitude of the violence perpetrated against journalists and the implications that this entails. As has been well said, the murder of a journalist is the extreme version of censorship in a society. Andrés Manuel López Obrador boasts that in Mexico there is unrestricted respect for public opinion, without realizing that the first brick in the construction of that opinion is the possibility that the facts can be reported to the rest of society without this means death for the informer. Mexico is the country with the highest number of murders of communicators in the world, after Afghanistan. Assuming that there is freedom of public opinion under these conditions is like presuming the cultural level of a country based on the number of literates, even if the person who publishes books is killed.

Once again, it should be insisted that the life of a journalist is not more important than that of any other citizen who is a victim of public insecurity in the country. If any of us falls as a result of the indiscriminate and random violence that we suffer daily, it will be regretted and indignant in the same proportion as in the case of a taxi driver, a student or any other Mexican. But when the purpose of the murder is to silence a journalist, the crime is directed at society as a whole, since it violates the right of a community to be informed of reality. It will be said that it is “barely” 28 cases so far in the six-year term, considering that more than one hundred thousand people have been murdered in the same period, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. The execution of a reporter is the extreme case; for each of them there are hundreds, if not thousands, of warnings, threats and harassment. As a whole, a violence that represses the possibility of giving an account of all that information likely to disturb the legal and illegal powers. In many regions, the media and journalists have chosen to censor themselves and thereby leave their communities unaware of the corruption and crime they suffer. There is no possibility of freedom of opinion where there is no way to find out what is happening, beyond the speeches of authority. And, by the way, it is documented that half of the attacks come from political actors, not necessarily from organized crime.

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The same could be said of the justice system; the life of a judge is as respectable as that of any other citizen. But it would be enough for half a dozen judges who have sentenced a drug trafficker to be attacked with impunity, so that the entire judiciary, which is not exactly exemplary, is collapsed for the purposes of applying the law against the capos. Any proportion kept is the same case when it comes to journalists and freedom of the press.

Certainly, the Government of the 4T did not generate the conditions that Mexico is experiencing in terms of public insecurity. Broadly speaking, the trends are similar to those of previous administrations and the causes that explain them were not born in this six-year term. But after three years in power, at least genuine concern on the part of the authority could be expected to tackle the problem. Especially since the effect is cumulative; today self-censorship in the local media is much greater than it was six years ago. The growth of the control that the cartels exercise in the territory makes it clear to editors and reporters that there is no defense against a threat and this year’s numbers only confirm it. In many regions, in increasing numbers, the professional has no choice but to submit to warnings or continue operating knowing that each day may be the last. Such was the case of Lourdes Maldonado, the most recent on the list, and that of so many others, and not only in the field of journalism.

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In a way these are the heroes of today. Human rights activists, defenders of the environment, denouncers of loggers, candidates and municipal councilors who try to rescue their people from the hands of crime, police officers and honest public ministries, journalists determined to continue reporting. In each of these areas, dozens have been executed with impunity and with this the last bastion capable of offering resistance to the violence and corruption that is taking control of the social and territorial fabric is being lost.

That is why I am disheartened by the tepid reaction of a man who decided to fight injustice and corruption. Every morning that the case of the execution of a mother in search of her missing person, the death of a loggers critic, the suppression of a reporter uncomfortable with power, comes up in the morning, the president is annoyed by the question. He affirms, like so many other authorities in the past, that the incident will not go unpunished, that it will be investigated to the last consequences, and two sentences later he returns to the usual subject of the grievances against him poured by the conservative press. The murdered journalists and activists are an uncomfortable fact that does not fit into your account of a country in which corruption no longer exists and, therefore, they deserve a brief comment to get out of the way. For them there are no sheets to project, no case count or follow-up of the previous ones. Much less recognition of the fact that he lost his life fighting for his ideals.

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The “heroes” in whose defense he extends himself are the Pedro Salmerón, the Salgado Macedonio, the Gertz Manero or similar governors who have been questioned for one reason or another. The president reacts as if the singling out of these characters constituted an offense to his person. He is outraged at the injustice being committed, which could be explained if he is convinced of his innocence. But the distance he assumes with those who truly should be someone’s heroes, who like him, has been a social fighter all his life, never ceases to amaze. It is they, the Lourdes Maldonado, who are falling into the trench facing injustice and corruption, which do exist in the country.

@jorgezepedap



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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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