MEXICO CITY—Ciro Gómez Leyva, one of Mexico’s most famous radio and television reporters, heard the shrill sound of gunfire from his car window while driving armored car came home from work last month. The bulletproof glass saved him from being another statistic in a series of deadly attacks against journalists in Mexico.
Only in 2022, at at least 13 Mexican journalists were assassinated, the most ever in a year. The country holds the record for the most assassinations of journalists working outside of a war zone, and also highest number of missing journalists worldwide, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The attack on Levya provoked an outcry from Mexican journalists, who issued a videotapes and hundreds of tweets in support of Leyva after the assassination.
Leyva told The Daily Beast in a recent interview: “I have received countless expressions of affection and solidarity, including those from nearly the entire press union in Mexico, is something I will never stop being grateful for.
Brimming with corruption and organized crime, Mexico is a dangerous place to report. And while the country is known for drug-related violenceExperts point to state agencies as the main aggressors against journalists. More than a half of registered attacks linked to the coverage of corruption and politics.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador only added to the tension. He repeatedly attacked journalists, saying they “lie like breathing”. On December 14, the day before the attack, Obrador criticized Levya and other prominent Mexican journalists, calling them “very dishonest people” who “even harm health” your health. If you listen to them a lot, you can develop a tumor in the brain.”
Obrador unfoundedly suggests that the attack may have been organized to destabilize his government.
“He [Obrador] faithful to what he said all his life,” Levya said. “His speech and actions are the endless struggle of the good people, which he claims to symbolize and represent, against the diabolical plots of corrupting forces, all inclusive. who disagreed with his policy or, worse still, dared to criticize or contradict him.
There is still uncertainty about the motive behind the assassination. “Yesterday, I was attacked,” he announced as he returned to his office. TV show tomorrow. “Someone wants to kill me. I do not know anyone. I do not know why.”
It’s not clear yet but Mexican authorities have arrested 16 suspects in the state of Mexico and the state of Michoacán on December 11 and 12. Pool Pedro “N,” the leader of a criminal group involved in murders, extortion and drug trafficking, is one of the prime suspects. arrested but no clear evidence. Levya attack engine.
Leopoldo Maldonado, regional director of Article 19—a global organization that defends freedom of expression—found the president’s relentless attacks on the press deeply problematic. He said in an interview with The Daily Beast: “This speech is authorized for other attacks.
Levya still believes he’s in a better position than most.
“Despite everything, I am a privileged journalist,” he said. “I work in two very strong companies. I direct and host two national news programs on radio and television.”
Yanely Fuentes, reporter and co-founder of Diario Alternativo, a small local media agency in the state of Guerrero, says that she has been the subject of many threats and invasions. They ranged from knocking on her door to intimidate her, to physically harassing and killing animals at her parents’ home. The attacks, she said, were the result of her reporting abuses by local community police in the state, such as torture in local prisons.
Hootsen agrees that in smaller communities, “the situation gets really sketchy” for journalists. Law enforcement is poor and local journalists are easy to identify. “It is a small village. Everyone knows everyone,” she said, noting that some of the most active policemen live just a few blocks from her home in Marquelia, Guerrero.
As the threats worsened, Fuentes had to leave the house with her 10-year-old twin sons. She moved to Barcelona, Spain, for 6 months until Taula of Mexico, a program that provides temporary protection to at-risk Mexican journalists and activists. Fuentes is currently living in a shelter in Mexico City, trying to continue her reporting career.
Although their backgrounds and popularity couldn’t be more different, Leyva and Fuentes share a common fear for their lives.
Hootsen says he hates the cliché about “brave journalists” because “these journalists fear for their lives every day.”
Leyva no longer dared to walk alone, saying the assassination changed his life overnight. “The attack is a very sad, painful and regrettable event. One of the joys in my life is living like a normal citizen, without bodyguards and personal protection. Walk alone through the streets and parks, shop in the boutiques, live with others, drive my car. That’s over, at least for a while.”
Fuentes is not immune to the dangers of walking alone.
“When I’m done talking to you here and I’m on the subway alone, anything can happen,” she told The Daily Beast. “I can’t control my anxiety anymore, not under these conditions.” She added that she rarely gets to see her children, who live with their father in Guerrero, and that she has tears in her eyes when she remembers her son once said to her: “Mom We don’t want to go out with you, because they will kill us.”
Despite all the trauma they were facing, neither Leyva nor Fuentes refused to stay silent.
Fuentes still hopes to return home one day. “No,” she said, shaking her head when asked if she would consider leaving journalism.
Leyva also has no intention of quitting, “I have decided to continue working,” he said. “I am a journalist, not a scholar. A journalist in a country full of violence and danger.”