The journalist Armando Linares has been murdered this Tuesday in Zitácuaro, in the State of Michoacán, as confirmed by the State Prosecutor’s Office. The attack occurred this afternoon “at a private address”, according to the public ministry. The reporter, director of the portal Monitor Michoacan, had denounced threats from officials after the assassination in January of informant Roberto Toledo, who collaborated with his outlet. That of Linares is the eighth crime of the year against the press in Mexico, the deadliest country to practice the profession outside of war zones.
“Armando’s alert and help calls were not heard,” his colleagues wrote in a statement released this Tuesday after the attack and addressed to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, “the authorities were omitted.” In the letter, the reporters demand that the Government “take with due seriousness the murders, attacks and violations of rights” against journalists in the country. “The rage, impotence and indignation no longer find words in the face of the homicides of journalists that are piling up in Mexico and Michoacán,” he read.
Local media have reported that Linares was killed in his home by eight shots in front of his family. The newspaper The Sun of Morelia He has assured that the reporter had received threats since 2019 and held the state prosecutor, Adrián López Solís, responsible for acts of corruption and intimidation. The same outlet has affirmed that Linares had taken advantage of the Mechanism for the Protection of Journalists “but for only a few weeks and then the protection was withdrawn.”
⚠️ ARTICLE 19 condemns and is documenting the murder of Armando Linares, director of Monitor Michoacán, which occurred a few hours ago in Zitácuaro, Michoacán.
– ARTICLE 19 MX-CA (@article19mex) March 16, 2022
After the murder of Toledo, who was riddled with bullets outside his office on January 31, Linares had reiterated in a video that the team he led had received threats. “The team of Monitor Michoacan has been suffering a series of death threats. Finally, these threats were carried out and today one of our team members was murdered,” Linares denounced at the time. Toledo was the fourth communicator killed in Mexico this year.
“Exhibiting corruption of governments, officials and politicians led us to the death of one of our colleagues,” Linares had said before breaking down in that video and remaining silent for a few seconds. “We are not armed, we do not bring weapons. Our only defense is a pen, a pencil, a notebook”, he had said, and had assured that he would take the complaints “to the last consequences”. “We are going to continue denouncing corruption even if life goes to it,” he had expressed.
Almost a dozen reporters died violently in 2021 alone in the country, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), and in the last three decades there have been more than 140. But more than 95% of crimes in Mexico end in impunity. Local journalists like Linares are the most exposed to violence against the press. The organization Article 19, which keeps a count of the homicides of communicators, also points out that 40% of the murders fall on public officials.
This year, the news about the deaths has gone around the world and the questions have also come from abroad. In February, the United States government criticized the wave of violence and the working conditions of Mexican reporters. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed on Twitter that the threats they receive were “worrying”. On Thursday, the European Parliament announced that it “observes with concern the harsh and systematic criticism formulated by the highest authorities of the Mexican government against journalists and their work.”
But in addition, the demonstrations by reporters in the country and the demands of human rights associations have forced the Government to commit to clarifying attacks such as the one suffered by journalist Lourdes Maldonado, who was murdered at the door of her house in Tijuana after having asked personally and publicly helps the president. The president commissioned to investigate the latest cases and in the morning conferences he has reported on some progress, which points above all to the material authors, but not to the intellectuals. The violence, however, has not stopped.
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