Mexico rejects EU press freedom resolution: ‘We are no longer anyone’s colony’

Mexico’s government on Thursday delivered an unorthodox and sardonic response to a European Parliament resolution calling on it to step up protections for the press and human rights defenders, amid a growing number of journalist murders in the country.

Mexico’s response, delivered through official channels as an unsigned open letter to MEPs, opened by calling on members to end their “corruption, lies and hypocrisy”.

“It is unfortunate that you join like sheep in the reactionary and putschist strategy of the corrupt group that opposes the Fourth Transformation, propelled by millions of Mexicans to confront the monstrous inequality and violence inherited from neoliberal economic policy which for 36 years has been taxed in our country,” the letter read.

The administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was reacting to a resolution adopted Thursday by the European Parliament which “calls on the authorities, and in particular the highest, to refrain from any communication likely to stigmatize human rights defenders , journalists and media professionals, to exacerbate the atmosphere against them or distort their lines of investigation.”

The López Obrador administration’s response touched on a range of bilateral and global issues, ranging from boasting of Mexico’s “pacifism” for not sending weapons to a war zone – in a thinly veiled allusion to the European military assistance to Ukraine amid Russian invasion – to López Obrador’s approval notes: ‘By the way, with higher approval than European leaders.’

“Next time, inform yourself and read the resolutions that are presented to you before voting. And remember that we are no longer the colony of anyone. Mexico is a free, independent and sovereign country”, reads- we in the letter.

The European resolution came as six journalists were killed in Mexico in 2022 as a result of their work, making Mexico the deadliest country in the world to practice journalism.

López Obrador downplayed the government’s role in protecting murdered journalists, saying they were killed by criminal elements, not direct actions by the Mexican state.

Yet he has been quick to point fingers and publicly criticize journalists he sees as opponents of his administration.

“The president in his daily press conference continues to stigmatize journalists, to attack publications, critical media. We consider this to be one of the deadliest countries for journalists. This is not possible, it’s not acceptable to have a president who attacks journalists every day,” said Emmanuel Colombié, head of the Latin America desk at Reporters Without Borders.

“I’m not saying that he encourages killings, but that he should change the way he talks about the press,” Colombié added.

López Obrador in February rose up against the Secretary of State Antoine BlinkenAntony BlinkenMexico rejects EU press freedom resolution: ‘We are no longer anyone’s colony’ China is wildcard in Russia-Ukraine warafter the top US diplomat expressed concern over the murders of journalists in Mexico.

Colombié said López Obrador often took criticism from abroad personally, including in cases like Blinken’s concerns or the EU resolution, which did not directly mention López Obrador.

In its letter to the EU, the Mexican government weaved accusations of colonialism and undue interference in internal affairs, while repeating López Obrador’s assertions that journalists are free to practice their profession in Mexico.

“Know, MEPs, that Mexico has ceased to be a land of conquest and, as in a very short time in its history, the libertarian principles of equality and democracy are respected. No one is repressed here, the right to freedom of expression and the work of journalists is respected. The state does not violate human rights as previous governments did, when you, by the way, were complicit in the silence,” reads -on in the letter.

But conditions for journalists have deteriorated dramatically in recent months, even as journalism has been a dangerous profession in Mexico for decades.

“We know the situation described in the resolution, we think it is very important to have a strong reaction from the European Parliament because it is not only a Mexican problem and it is important to put pressure on the Mexican authorities in this time,” Colombié said.

Colombié added that in addition to the confirmed murders of journalists in 2022, Reporters Without Borders is investigating whether a seventh murder was linked to the victim’s profession.

“If we reach seven cases in just over two months, that means we have the same number of murders as in 2021,” he said.

And while none of the killings are believed to have been ordered by Mexican federal authorities, Reporters Without Borders has linked government corruption at the local level to heightened levels of danger for journalists operating in states and regions. specific municipalities.

“We observe a direct link between organized crime and the places where journalists are killed,” Colombié said.

The federal government has a mechanism to protect journalists and human rights defenders, but that mechanism has failed in at least one high-profile murder.

In January, journalist Lourdes Maldonado was shot dead in Tijuana, while she was under the protection of the federal mechanism.

Maldonado had in 2019 personally told López Obrador at his daily press conference that she feared for her life amid a labor dispute with Jaime Bonilla, a former governor of Baja California who is also a former US elected official and a close ally of López Obrador.

After Maldonado’s death, Bonilla publicly denied any involvement and downplayed Labor’s lawsuit, which Maldonado won shortly before he was assassinated.

Investigations into Maldonado’s murder have yet to yield results, in a country where few or no murders of journalists are solved.

“Between 95% and 100% of cases of murders and enforced disappearances of journalists go unpunished with regard to intellectual authors. [authors] crimes are caught and convicted,” Colombié said.

“It’s like encouraging the authorities to commit crimes against the press,” he added.

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