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Yesenia Mollinedo and Johana García: Press under siege in Mexico: two journalists shot to death in Veracruz

The massacre of journalists gives no respite in Mexico. Barely four days after the murder of reporter Luis Enrique Ramírez, in Culiacán (Sinaloa), the director of the weekly the truthful, Yesenia Mollinedo, and the camerawoman Johana García have been shot this Monday in Veracruz, when they were parked in front of a supply store. With them, there are already 11 journalists killed so far this year in the country, which has become the most dangerous in the world for the press.

Members of the civil force guard the area where Yesenia Mollinedo Falconi and Sheila Johana García were murdered on May 9, 2022.
Members of the civil force guard the area where Yesenia Mollinedo Falconi and Sheila Johana García were murdered on May 9, 2022.Angel Hernandez (EFE)

Around 3:00 p.m., on Benito Juárez Street, the Veracruz Public Security Secretariat reported the attack on the journalists. Even this small municipality in the south of the state, which is identified by the press as an area of ​​strong insecurity, the security forces have been deployed to try to locate the aggressors, so far without success.

With these two murders, there are seven reporters who have died violently in Veracruz in the Cuitláhuac García Administration. “Let it be clear to those who do not want to understand it, in Veracruz there are no longer any complicities nor will these attacks be tolerated by anyone,” the governor of Veracruz has written on his Twitter account. And he added: “We will find the perpetrators of this crime, there will be justice and there will be no impunity as we have said and done in other cases. The Government of Veracruz is no longer ignorant or complicit, we are going after them.”

Claudia Martínez, from newspaper Truthful, a Xalapa news portal, told EL PAÍS: “The situation is terrible in the State, we have a serious problem with insecurity and the Government does nothing.” Martínez, who is covered by the journalists’ protection mechanism, acknowledges being outraged at a situation that is already “unsustainable”: “We cannot do our job without being killed.” José Luis Gamboa, stabbed to death on January 10 in Puerto de Veracruz, was the first reporter killed this year.

The succession of murders in 2022 has scandalized a union accustomed to living with threats. In the first five months of the year, the total number of crimes from previous years is already exceeded. The organization Article 19, which has documented 145 murders of journalists in Mexico since 2000, acknowledges the uptick in violence, although it has not yet identified the causes. The director of this group, Leopoldo Maldonado, assures that they are already following up on the bloody murder of Mollinedo and García.

One of the main fronts to combat is impunity: Article 19 speaks of 99% of unsolved crimes, some of which are intentionally delayed in prosecutors’ offices for years, and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ, for its acronym in English) identifies Mexico as the country with the highest number of cases in total impunity in the world.

The alarming climate against the press in Mexico has reached beyond the country’s borders: both the United States and the European Parliament have called on the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador to take action. “The conclusion after three years of the López Obrador government is that not only has it not been able to solve the dozens of murders of journalists, defenders and activists, but it has done very little to prevent them,” Jan Albert-Hoosten told EL PAÍS, CPJ representative in Mexico.

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