The shooting death on Monday of reporter Roberto Toledo in the western state of Michoacán, Mexico, has once again shocked the journalistic profession and the country, as it is the fourth journalist to be killed in less than a month.
Toledo was attacked by three armed men in the parking lot of the building where Monitor Michoacán is located in the municipality of Zitácuaro.
The individuals shot him several times and he was hit twice in the abdomen, once in the thorax, once in the arm and once in the collarbone.
Mexico has a Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, which provides measures such as a panic button, patrols or surveillance to its beneficiaries.
However, in several cases, this federal mechanism -or other state mechanisms- have not served to save the journalist’s life.
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Several lines of investigation
The Michoacán State Attorney General’s Office (FGE) is not ruling out any line of investigation into Toledo’s murder.
The agency reported that it is already conducting investigations to determine whether the murder of the journalist is related to his journalistic activity or to the legal profession, as he was also a collaborator of a law firm that shared offices with the media outlet.
Although, according to the above, the link between the murder and his work in the press has not yet been confirmed, the director of Monitor Michoacán attributed the event to the fact that his media outlet is dedicated to “exposing corruption” of the authorities and politicians.
In local media, Linares said that the news portal had received “threats for the whole team” and that these began a year ago when the media outlet “exposed” corruption by a former high-ranking official of the state Attorney General’s Office.
Dozens of journalists in Michoacán have joined the demands for justice and are analyzing a massive protest in the main cities of the state.
Drug gangs in Michoacán
Zitácuaro is a municipality in eastern Michoacán which borders the State of Mexico and where federal and state authorities have identified a bloody struggle between drug gangs.
These criminal organizations are the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG), La Familia Michoacana (former), La Nueva Familia Michoacana (split from the former), Los Caballeros Templarios (CT) and Los Correa.
Four murders of journalists in January
Not yet counting this last case, the NGO Article 19 counts 148 journalists murdered for their work from 2000 to date, 28 of them during the term of the current Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, which started in December 2018.
After one crime in December 2018 and ten in 2019, the country recorded 7 homicides of communicators in 2020 and another 7 in 2021.
Toledo’s murder comes less than a week after a massive day of protests across the country over the recent murders of journalists in Mexico, as four informants have already been killed so far this year.
Before Toledo, José Luis Gamboa was murdered in the port of Veracruz (Veracruz) on January 10, and Margarito Martínez and Lourdes Maldonado in Tijuana (Baja California) on January 17 and 23, respectively.
Harassment of journalists by those in power
In addition, the constant questioning and attacks on the press by López Obrador contribute to a climate of polarization that does not facilitate journalistic work in one of the countries in the world where the press receives the most attacks.
This same Monday, López Obrador called journalist Carlos Loret de Mola a “mercenary” for publishing an article about the luxurious house where one of his sons lives in the United States.
“But this gentleman, Loret de Mola, who is a mercenary, made a scandal because he thinks we are equal. No, no. He was and continues to be at the service of the power mafia”, said the President.