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Mexico Mourns; Four Journalists Executed in Less Than a Month

Published: February 1, 2022
A journalist takes a photo during a protest to ask for justice for journalists and photojournalists murdered in Mexico on Jan. 25, 2022 in Guadalajara, Mexico. So far in January 4 journalists have been murdered in Mexico. (Image: Leonardo Alvarez Hernandez/Getty Images)

Mexico is in mourning after four journalists, some working to expose government corruption, were murdered all within the span of a month. 

The latest journalist to fall victim to the violence is Roberto Toledo, who contributed to the online media outlet Monitor Michoacán, who was fatally shot by three assailants in the Mexican city of Zitacuaro on Monday, Jan. 31.

Armando Linares, director of the outlet, says that the outlet has been receiving death threats for reporting on government corruption. “For exposing corrupt administrations and corrupt officials and politicians, today that led to the death of one of our colleagues,” Linares said. 

“The Monitor Michoacán team has suffered weeks, months of death threats. We know where all of this comes from,” Linares said without identifying anyone he thought was responsible. 

Prosecutors in the western state of Michoacán say they are investigating the murder. 

According to Jan-Albert Hootsen, the Mexico representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists, Toledo worked as a camera operator and video editor for the Monitor Michoacán. “We are classifying him as a media worker or press worker,” the representative said.

Toledo was in the process of filming a new video column about local lawyer Joel Vera when gunmen arrived at Vera’s office, the outlet said.

Jesús Ramírez, spokesman for Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said via a tweet that the administration condemned Toledo’s killing. 

“We will work together with the state and municipal governments to clear up the case. We will not allow impunity. We defend freedom of expression and the right to information,” Ramírez wrote.

Linares said that the outlet is working on several sensitive stories including covering three Indigenous communities that are seeking self-government, organized crime activities in the area and illegal logging and corruption in local government. 

Toledo was under the hospices of the government’s protection system for journalists and human rights defenders dubbed “el mecanismo,” however it is unclear what level of protection he was receiving. Protection afforded by the system ranges in scope from a panic button to alert authorities, surveillance cameras installed around someone’s home to bodyguards. 

The violence follows the murder of three other journalists in January. On January 17, Margarito Martínez, a crime photographer, was shot outside his home and on January 23, Lourdes Maldonado López was found shot to death inside her car. 

On January 10, reporter José Luis Gamboa was killed in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz.

The spate of killings has reporters in Mexico on high alert and sparked protests in the nation earlier this month. According to the Mexican government over 50 journalists have been killed in Mexico since December, 2018.

Alejandro Encinas, the Mexican Interior Undersecretary, recently said that 90 percent of murders of journalists and rights defenders remain unsolved despite government efforts.