Mexican president defends news anchor after cartel threat

MEXICO CITY – Known for his relentless criticism of the press, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador spoke on Tuesday in favor o...

MEXICO CITY – Known for his relentless criticism of the press, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador spoke on Tuesday in favor of a television presenter who was apparently threatened by the head of a powerful drug cartel.

Mr López Obrador’s unusual defense of a journalist came after a video circulated widely on social networks in which a man claiming to be the leader of the Jalisco New Generation cartel threatened to kill the presenter, Azucena Uresti of Milenio TV, because of her critical coverage.

“I completely condemn these threats,” López Obrador said at his morning press conference. “I reiterate my solidarity with this journalist, Azucena Uresti, and with all journalists, with the guarantee that our government will always protect those who exercise this profession.

In reality, the government has done little to protect them. Journalists are routinely murdered in Mexico for their work, lending added credibility to the death threat from one of the country’s most violent drug cartels.

Two journalists have been killed for their work so far this year while 15 others are missing, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, an international advocacy group. Since 1994, according to the group, nearly 60 journalists have been murdered for their work in Mexico.

“Mexico is the most dangerous country for journalists in the Western Hemisphere, and it has had this status for a very long time,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, Mexican representative for CPJ. “The Mexican state is absolutely unprepared and ill-equipped to deal with this problem, and there is also a lack of political will from the Mexican government to adequately protect journalists and fight impunity.

In the video, a masked man who identifies as Rubén Oseguera Cervantes, also known as El Mencho, accuses Milenio of being biased in his coverage of the conflict between the Jalisco cartel and local vigilante groups in Michoacán State, west of Mexico City. He is surrounded in the video by several masked gunmen.

“I am not against freedom of expression, but I am against anyone who attacks me directly,” said the man, before threatening Ms. Uresti directly. “I assure you that wherever you are, I will find you and I will make you eat your words, even if they accuse me of feminicide.”

Ms Uresti said she would not give up her professional responsibilities despite the threat, thanking the authorities and her colleagues for their support: “We will continue to do our job as we have done so far,” he said. she said on her radio show. on the Radio Formule station.

The video was quickly condemned by leaders from all political backgrounds, as well as journalists and media figures across the country: letter signed by more than a dozen media groups broadcast online Monday, calling on the authorities to arrest those who make such threats.

“We strongly reject the threats to which our colleagues have been subjected,” the letter read, while offering a thinly veiled blow to Mr. López Obrador and his promise to transform Mexican social and political life on a scale comparable to independence from Spain in the early 19th century and the Mexican revolution in the early 20th century. “We are convinced that the desired transformation for the country cannot be achieved if freedom of expression is threatened.

Mr López Obrador, who holds a two-hour press conference almost every morning, has increasingly used his platform to attack the press for coverage he considers unfavorable, even going so far as to appoint journalists specific for their work.

In June, the president launched a weekly section of his briefings titled ‘Who’s Who in the Lies of the Week’, in which press articles and journalists are publicly derided as being unfair or biased towards the government.

While not directly related to criminal violence against the press, such attacks increase the risks for journalists in Mexico and erode trust in the media and the coverage they provide, advocacy groups say. analysts.

“It creates an atmosphere in which the public can be much less sensitive to the extent and the seriousness, the seriousness of the problem,” said Mr. Hootsen. “I am glad the president spoke”, he added, of the threat against Mrs Uresti, but “I wish he was more coherent and a little more empathetic towards the press”.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Mexican president defends news anchor after cartel threat
Mexican president defends news anchor after cartel threat
Newsrust - US Top News
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