A growing dispute over press freedom has gripped Mexico after the country’s nationalist president slandered a routine US human rights report that highlighted his government’s inability to protect journalists and the behavior of some officials. against members of the media.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, commonly called Amlo, condemned the mention of Mexico in the state department’s annual human rights report as an unwanted intervention in Mexican affairs.
But Amlo also pointed to press freedom group Article 19, which was cited as a source, in an outburst that reflects his disdain for civil society groups.
“They are supported by foreigners. And all the people who are associated with Article 19 belong to the conservative movement, which is against us, “Amlo alleged on Wednesday, once again calling his alleged opponents” conservative “despite their own conservative leanings on social issues and economical.
“We are not meddling by commenting on human rights violations in the United States. We are respectful ” Amlo said, referring to its declared foreign policy of non-intervention. “We cannot comment on what happens in another country, so why does the United States government comment on issues that are purely Mexican?”
Subsequently, a government spokesperson tweeted the sources of funding for Article 19, while supporters and pro-government media even accused the group of promoting a coup.
“Financed by the United States, Article 19 fuels a coup against Mexico,” shouted the front page from the newspaper La Jornada on Thursday.
The attacks on Article 19 unleashed a firestorm on social media in a country considered one of the most dangerous for journalists: 137 Mexican journalists have been killed for their work since 2000, including 17 since Amlo took office in 2018.
The hostile response was consistent with the president’s long-standing practice of publicly attacking critical media coverage, outlined by Article 19 in his most recent annual report in Mexico.
“The dynamics of stigmatization of the press, censorship, violation of human rights and the weakening or abandonment of [government] institutions created as a counterweight to power, ”says the report.
“Article 19 is acting as it would with any other government,” said Javier Garza, a journalist and editor from the northern city of Torreón. “[But] Amlo has to have an enemy. Today is Article 19. “
Amlo, who portrays his administration as morally superior to the governments of his predecessors, has often wondered aloud why the media would scrutinize his administration.
As much as the Donald Trump administration cited “alternative facts,” the Mexican president often responds to unfavorable stories with the line: “I have other figures.”
Meanwhile, Amlo has not taken significant steps to stop violence against journalists, said Jan-Albert Hootsen, Mexico representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists.
“What they have added is a hostile and confrontational attitude towards the media, journalists and civil society organizations such as Article 19,” he added. “Amlo distracts himself from his own failures to combat impunity and violence by attacking anyone who criticizes his government. He is fully aware of the effect these attacks have: online intimidation, trolling, harassment and even threats from supporters. “
The president made special exception to a passage in the US report that mentions the director of the state news agency Notimex, Sanjuana Martínez.
She said that she “ordered journalists to remove or not publish content about certain institutions and government officials.” citing a report by Article 19, Signa Lab and Aristegui Noticias. The investigation found evidence of a group “in which directors, sent by the director [Martínez] ordered workers to post messages on Twitter and use hashtags against journalists and former employees ”.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism