US Lawmakers Call for Support, Protection for Mexico’s Media

U.S. lawmakers this week introduced a resolution to condemn the violence directed at journalists in Mexico.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Menendez, and Tim Kaine, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, along with eight Democratic Senate colleagues, expressed support for better safeguards for media in Mexico.

The resolution came as Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador met with President Joe Biden in Washington on Tuesday.

In a joint statement, Kaine acknowledged the importance of López Obrador’s visit to Washington to discuss trade, migration, security and other issues.

But he said, “Equally important will be action on strengthening protections for journalists in Mexico, who continue to confront record levels of violence in the country.”

The country ranks as one of the most dangerous for media outside war zones and has a poor record in securing justice in the cases of journalists killed for their work.

Safety measures that include a federal program to offer practical assistance and protection to journalists under threat exist, but those enrolled say efforts don’t go far enough.

At least 12 journalists have been killed in Mexico since the start of the year. On July 1, a radio journalist in the central state of Jalisco narrowly survived a knife attack.

At least 12 journalists have been killed in Mexico since the start of the year. On July 1, a radio journalist in the central state of Jalisco narrowly survived a knife attack.

Assailants forced Susana Carreño out of her vehicle and onto the ground at gunpoint, then repeatedly stabbed the Radio UDG journalist.

The attack left her needing emergency surgery on her neck and chest, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Describing the attack as “shocking and brutal,” CPJ Mexico representative Jan-Albert Hootsen said in a statement the case “once again shows the Mexican authorities’ utter failure to protect the country’s press.”

The press relations office of Mexico’s president told VOA in May that Lopez Obrador’s administration is taking action to address violent attacks.

“Progress is being made in the eradication of impunity in crimes against journalists,” the press office said, noting that officials have taken action against suspects in at least six of the fatal attacks in 2022.

‘Urgent need to protect’

In their resolution, the U.S. lawmakers called on Mexico to commit to “thorough and impartial” investigations into violence directed at media, to assist state bodies in improving protection measures, and to work with civil society to monitor conditions for the media.

In a statement published to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations website, Kaine said, “Press freedom must remain the cornerstone of every democratic nation, including Mexico. At its core, this resolution underscores the urgent need to protect journalists who risk their lives to report the truth.”

Noting that the European Parliament passed a similar resolution earlier this year, Menendez said, “As journalists risk everything to advance truth, expose injustice and hold bad actors to account, they deserve nothing less than our — and the government of Mexico’s — full support.”

López Obrador responded to the European Parliament criticism at one of his regular media briefings in March. The president said he was taking steps to address the killings and that criticism of Mexico’s response to the attacks on the media was part of a “campaign against the government.”

Media rights groups have previously criticized López Obrador over hostile rhetoric directed at journalists.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said the López Obrador administration accuses journalists of bias and attempts to discredit journalists, and said the president himself has described the press as “biased” and “scum.”

Arturo Sarukhan, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and Mexico’s former ambassador to the United States, told VOA Tuesday that a “commitment” to protect journalists is “what matters at the end of the day.”

The López Obrador administration should commit “to protect journalists, to provide them with the protection they require so that they are not intimidated, in some cases by organized crime, and that the president himself does not … attack, revile, criticize and question the media.”

For Mexico’s journalists, the killings and violence leave them feeling vulnerable.

“We are tired — sad and tired — of these violent events,” Juan de Dios García Davish, CEO of news site Quadratin Chiapas, told VOA last month after the killing of Antonio de la Cruz, in Tamaulipas state, on June 29.

De Dios García Davish moved to Las Vegas, in the U.S. state of Nevada, because of safety concerns.

María de Jesús Peters, another Mexican journalist who moved to the U.S. for safety reasons, said, “The truth is not killed by killing journalists. And today, we are demanding that justice.”

Jessica Jerreat, Anita Powell and Cristina Caicedo Smit contributed to this report.

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