In Tijuana, Mexico, journalists are silenced with bullets

By Carlos Zuniga

Tijuana, Mexico, Jan 24 (EFE).- In the Tijuana border, considered one of the most violent cities in Mexico, journalists are silenced by gunshots with two murders occuring in the past week and a long history of crimes against the press.

The case of the Mexican journalist Lourdes Maldonado, murdered Sunday, is even more tragic because the reporter herself traveled to Mexico City in 2019 to tell President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador that she felt threatened and could die at any moment.

Lopez Obrador then responded with good words, just like Monday when he guaranteed an investigation would be carried out to find out who participated in Maldonado’s murder.

But as organizations defending human rights and journalists denounce, almost all of the murders of journalists go unpunished without those responsible being brought to justice.

The list of journalists murdered in Tijuana is long and we must go back to the murder of Hector Felix Miranda, in 1988, followed by the armed attack on Jesus Blancornelas, in 1997, both from Semanario Zeta.

In 2004 Francisco Ortiz Franco was assassinated, and in the neighboring municipality, in Playas de Rosarito, Luciano Rivera was shot to death in 2017.

January 2022 could not have started worse and to the one hundred homicides registered in Tijuana until Sunday, the murders of two journalists are added.

On Jan. 17, the city was shocked to learn photojournalist Margarito Martinez Esquivel was shot to death when he tried to leave his house for news coverage.

Margarito, “El 4-4” as he was known in the guild, died next to his car in full view of his neighbors. The Baja California State Attorney General’s Office said the weapon with which he was killed had already been used in at least five more homicides in the Sanchez Taboada delegation, which is disputed by the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel.

In the same way Sunday, as she was arriving home, Maldonado was shot in the head, just a few days after winning a labor lawsuit she had filed years ago against First News System, owned by former Governor Jaime Bonilla Valdez.

Baja California Governor Marina del Pilar Avila said Monday that she will work on the investigation of both cases, to find those responsible.

“We are going to use the full force of the state to guarantee that justice prevails, we are not going to allow anyone to take away the peace of mind of the families that strive every day to have a full and dignified life,” she said.

Tijuana Mayor Monserrat Caballero suspended her morning program and issued a letter assuring they would work hand in hand with the State Attorney General’s Office to clarify both cases.

Journalists, reporters and communicators in Baja California mobilized and in Tijuana protested outside the Secretary of Public Security and Municipal Citizen Protection.

Sonia de Anda, representative of the #YoSiSoyPeriodista (IAmAJournalist) collective, said she lamented that Maldonado died while she was still part of the State Government’s Protection Protocol for Journalists, which consisted of taking care of her safety only at night.

Harlene Arriaga Nava, president of a local Bar Association, requested that Baja California authorities investigate Maldonado’s case as a femicide, considering the circumstances in which the attack occurred.

Three journalists have been murdered in Mexico so far in 2022. The first case occurred in Veracruz, where Jose Luis Gamboa’s life was taken after receiving several stab wounds.

According to the organization Reporters Without Borders, at least seven journalists were murdered in Mexico in 2021, making it “the deadliest in the world for the press.”

Mexico ranks 143rd out of 180 countries in the organization’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index. EFE

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