So far this year at least 18 journalists have been killed in Mexico, making Mexico one of the most deadly places to work as a journalist, according to Article 19, an independent and nonpartisan group dedicated to freedom of the press.

They released a report on violence against Mexican journalists last week that also documented  331 attacks against Mexican journalists in the first half of the year, most of which involve intimidation and harassment.

Most of these crimes won’t ever be solved as there is rampant impunity in Mexico. 

The think tank México Evalúa found that 94.8 %of the cases reported in Mexico go unpunished. There also are an estimated 100,000 disappeared in Mexico. 

Article 19 reported that there was a 51.83% increase in attacks on journalists in the first half of 2022 compared to the first half of 2018, when former President Enrique Peña Nieto was in power.

Article 19 alleged the state or the government in Mexico was behind most attacks on the press.

“The role that the authorities have in the violence against the press clearly reflects a breach of the state’s obligations to guarantee the rights and integrity of journalists and the media,” the report said.

The government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador has said the government does not attack journalists and the crimes are being committed by criminal groups.

It’s naive to think that some of these crimes against journalists, or against the citizens of Mexico, have nothing to do with government actors such as police, the military or elected officials.

This month for the first time the Mexican government acknowledged that the disappearance and presumed killing of 43 student teachers in Ayotzinapa was a crime of the state involving every layer of government.  In fact, Mexico just arrested a former attorney general in this case.

AMLO needs to do more to protect journalists and stem the tide of violence in Mexico. 

Earlier this month, at least two dozen vehicles were hijacked and burned around Baja California. Tijuana Mayor Montserrat Caballero blamed it on disputes between drug gangs and asked them to stop the violence.

“Today we are saying to the organized crime groups that are committing these crimes, that Tijuana is going to remain open and take care of its citizens,” Caballero said in a video. “And we also ask them to settle their debts with those who didn’t pay what they owe, not with families and hard-working citizens.”

The violent attacks prompted the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana to order government personnel to shelter in place. The Mexican president called in the National Guard. Also, at least 11 people were killed recently in Ciudad Juarez, and cartels also set fire to shops, buses and cars and blocked major roads in Jalisco and Guanajuato.

A journalist in Mexico once told me why it was so dangerous to be a reporter there. “You don’t know who the enemy is,” she said.

It could be a narco, a police officer or the politician you are interviewing, she explained. 

I’ve also interviewed journalists in Mexico who said that when they report on crime they do so anonymously so their name is not on the story.

Still so many journalists in Mexico report bravely and openly.

AMLO has to do more to protect journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that 149 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 1992.

The U.S. also has to acknowledge those fleeing the violence of the narcos or the state and offer them safe haven.

Press freedom in Mexico matters as it is essential to democracy there, and around the world. 

Teresa Puente

Teresa Puente has spent her career reporting on immigration and Latino issues in the U.S. and has also reported extensively from Mexico. Previously, she was a staff reporter at the Chicago Tribune and...