Mexican president says criticism of journalist killings is part of ‘soft coup’

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks to media representatives in Mexico City
FILE PHOTO: Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks to members of the media about the country not sending arms to Ukraine, after Ukrainian officials asked the country’s Senate for arms and military assistance a day earlier at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico in March 4, 2022. Mexico Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

March 10, 2022

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday that the criticism he has faced for a series of killings of journalists is part of a campaign to undermine his government and a “soft coup” orchestrated by media outlets “ equal.

Local activists, international groups and US lawmakers have urged Lopez Obrador to do more to stem the violence and protect reporters as at least six journalists have been killed in Mexico so far in 2022, an ominously deadly start to the year for media homicides already at a record high.

Even US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has expressed concern at the spate of journalist killings.

“There is a campaign against the government that I represent that is taking advantage of this unfortunate circumstance,” Lopez Obrador said at a news conference when asked about his government’s failure to protect media workers.

Following the conference, the European Parliament, the legislative body of the European Union, passed a resolution calling on Mexico to “ensure that human rights defenders and journalists can continue their activities without fear of reprisals”.

A text published on its website also states that it “notes with concern the systematic and harsh criticism leveled at journalists by the highest authorities in the Mexican government.”

Lopez Obrador, who holds daily conferences that often last more than two hours, has escalated his attacks on journalists and media outlets, which he regards as anti-government and accused of being playthings for the “conservative” right and elites.

“It’s a kind of coup d’etat. It’s no longer the traditional military coup, it’s a soft coup with the power of the media, which generally controls public opinion,” Lopez Obrador said.

According to Article 19 of the human rights organization, about 145 journalists were killed in Mexico between 2000 and 2021, making the country one of the deadliest for journalists.

The worst year in recent history was 2017 with 12 murders, followed by 2010 with 10.

“The Mexican government’s inaction smolders the impunity that fuels these attacks and cements its abysmal status as the hemisphere’s deadliest country for journalists,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, Mexico’s representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists, in a statement on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz, Valentine Hilaire and Kylie Madry; Editing by Alexandra Hudson and Jonathan Oatis) Mexican president says criticism of journalist killings is part of ‘soft coup’

Bobby Allyn

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