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Armando Linares

01.02.2022 Featured 4 Journalists Killed in January Join Over 100 Slain in Mexico Since 2000

Published 1st Feb, 2022

By Lolade Olu-Ojegbeje

Three armed men shot Roberto Toledo, a Mexican journalist, in a car parking in Zitacuaro, a city in Mexico, on Monday. He later died in a hospital from gunshot injuries.

Toledo’s killing has sparked wild outrage across the country as he becomes the fourth journalist killed within 21 days in January, according to reports, and state prosecutors have begun investigations into his gruesome murder.

Armando Linares
Armando Linares speaking on Toledo’s death.

Prior to his death, the platform he worked for, Monitor Michoacan, had been reporting on corrupt administration and corrupt officials, and had received death threats, according to Armando Linares, the platform’s Director, in a video message after Toledo’s death.

BEFORE TOLEDO, THERE WAS GAMBOA

Jose Luis Gamboa
Jose Luis Gamboa

Toledo was not the first journalist to suffer at the hands of assailants. Twenty days before he died, Jose Luis Gamboa, another journalist, was found in Floresta, a neighbourhood in Veracruz, with at least seven stab wounds.

READ ALSO: Afghan Journalist Whose Life Is in Danger Speaks From Hiding

It was January 10. The police and investigators did not find threats to Gamboa’s life, but seven stab wounds showed that whoever attacked him did so intending to take his life.

While alive, Gamboa founded and edited the Inforegio news website and co-founded La Noticia, another news website.

DAUGHTER FINDS BBC FREELANCER’S BODY OUTSIDE HOME

Margarito Martinez
Margarito Martinez

On January 17, the body of Margarito Martinez Esquivel, a journalist who had done some work with the BBC, was found outside his home by his 16-year-old daughter.

“Unfortunately, I couldn’t do anything for him,” said Elena Martínez, crying outside the family’s home in the Camino Verde neighbourhood of Tijuana. Martínez’s 16-year-old daughter heard the gunshots and found her father’s body by his car immediately after the shooting.

It was only one week after Gamboa’s death, and finding Martinez’s killers remained as difficult as finding the culprits of the January 10 murder.

READ ALSO: For Reporting Southern Kaduna Killings, el-Rufai’s Gov’t Detains Journalist

Martinez had made an official complaint about threats he received via Facebook over his work as a journalist, according to YoSíSoy Periodista, a Mexican journalist organisation. He was seeking government protection through the Federal Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, an agency formed in 2012 to address Mexico’s rising violence against activists and reporters, when he died.

TIJUANA MOURNS ANOTHER JOURNALIST WHO BEGGED FOR HER LIFE

López Maldonado
López Maldonado

It did not take long before the city of Tijuana, Mexico, was mourning again. On January 23, four days after Martinez’s passing, López Maldonado was killed.

Maldonado was found dead in a car after succumbing to gunshot injuries.

Two years before her death, she begged President Andrés Manuel López Obrador for help as she feared she was endangered.

Maldonado went to Obrador’s daily morning news conference and asked for his help, saying she had a dispute with a man later elected governor.

Her fears were ignored back in 2019, but it has now come up as investigators attempt to connect dots in her case.

Her dispute was with Jamie Bonilla, the owner of the PSN media outlet. Maldonado previously worked for PSN, and sued the company for unfair dismissal. She won the lawsuit just days before she was killed.

NINE DEATHS IN 2020, OVER 120 SINCE 2000, MEXICO RANKED DEADLIEST COUNTRY FOR JOURNALISTS

“Mexico is suffering a multi-faceted crisis with regard to press freedom. The situation has been getting steadily worse over the past few years, culminating in the country’s abysmal status as the world’s deadliest for reporters in 2020. The crisis principally stems from impunity.” These were the words of Jan-Albert Hootsen, Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) Mexico representative.

READ ALSO: I Risk Life in Prison for Being a Journalist, Says Nobel Prize Winner

In 2020, CPJ found over 30 journalists killed globally for their work. Nine of these were in Mexico alone, representing almost a third of the global number.

The statistics show it is easier to be killed as a journalist in Mexico than to be killed while covering a war.

In 2020, two of the nine journalists killed were earlier placed under federal protection, but the weak architecture crumbled as the bodyguards were killed alongside the journalists when the attacks occurred.

On Wikipedia, there is a dedicated page that monitors and updates deaths and abductions of journalists. The page records that Juan Nelcio Espinoza Menera was killed in police custody on August 22, 2020. Even in state custodies, journalists are not safe.

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Published 1st Feb, 2022

By Lolade Olu-Ojegbeje

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