Mexican journalists began protests across the country on Tuesday, Jan. 25, to denounce the recent murders of three well-known journalists. The media professionals demanded the government take immediate action and end the impunity that has characterized the murders of their colleagues.

Photographers, reporters, anchors, and other media workers, regardless of their political leanings, gathered on Tuesday to protest the critical situation in Mexico regarding the censorship imposed by mafia groups, often in collaboration with local and federal governments.

Two journalists were murdered in the border city of Tijuana in the first weeks of the year. Police photographer Margarito Martínez was shot to death in front of his home on Jan. 17, while reporter Lourdes Maldonado López was found shot to death in her car last Sunday arousing the repudiation of the entire community.

At the same time, reporter José Luis Gamboa was stabbed to death earlier this month in the state of Veracruz.

According to reports by the group Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Gamboa strongly criticized local government corruption and officials with ties to organized crime.

The media advocacy group tweeted about the murder of Lopez, who was meant to be “under the protection of the state.” RSF called for “a rigorous investigation and guaranteed protection for her family.” 

Mexico introduced a government protection plan for journalists in 2012. But, according to figures reported by the government, just under 500 people have managed to receive protection.

What sparked further outrage after the recent murders is that the two journalists killed in Tijuana had reportedly asked for protection before they were attacked.

Martínez had received threats from someone with alleged links to criminals and waited for state protection that never arrived.

Given the fear experienced by Mexicans and the impunity with which criminals are working, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres demanded that “tough measures” be taken.

“We call on Mexican authorities to strengthen the protection of journalists, in particular, to take further steps to prevent attacks on them, including by tackling threats and slurs aimed at them,” said Guterres’ spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.

Facing pressure from the local and international community, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador addressed journalists at a briefing on Tuesday and said perpetrators would be punished.

However, there is little credibility to his words. His statistics work against him as the Committee to Protect Journalists—a non-profit organization that promotes press freedom—reported in November 2021 that 95% of the more than 140 journalists killed since 2000 remain unsolved, and there appears to be no new plan to give hope that this percentage will be reversed.

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