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Mar 11, 2024

Roberto Díaz reports  On February 22, 2024, during the presidential morning conference, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO, revealed a letter sent to him by the Mexico, Central America, and Caribbean bureau of the U.S. newspaper The New York Times. In the letter, the president was asked to respond to a series of questions sent by the newspaper's editor, Natalie Krittoef, with the intention of clarifying alleged illicit financing in his 2018 campaign.


During the press conference, the Mexican president read the letter containing the editor's phone number, which could be considered a violation of Mexico's journalist data protection law. It is worth mentioning that in recent weeks, there have been four attempts to link AMLO to organized crime—a report by DW, another by Pro-Publica, another by Insight Crime, and another by Latinus—all just four months before the presidential elections in Mexico, where all polls indicate the candidate from his political party, Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo, as the winner. It should be noted that all investigations have resulted in no substantiation.


On February 23, there was an interesting response from Univisión correspondent Jésica Zermeño, who, when questioned about the leak of an editor's phone number that was not private and was already publicly available on LinkedIn, the president's response about a "higher moral law" superior to the law established in the Mexican constitution was enough, fueling an already polarized relationship between his administration and the media.


Even though in 2023, according to the NGO Reporters Without Borders, four journalists were killed and 34 disappeared, making Mexico the second most dangerous country for journalism outside of Gaza, the media has tried to link López Obrador's presidency to the killings. Mainly denouncing "La Mañanera," the morning press conferences, to denigrate often biased work, as was the case with the misinformation spread by Diario de Yucatan about a supposed heart attack suffered by the president, further diminishing a critical stance on the search for evidence to justify the editorial lines pursued by different media outlets which supported the desinformation. 


"If she has so much of a problem, she should change her number," was the response given by President AMLO regarding the issue, ignoring that things were only going to get more complicated from there on.


Communication experts, analysts, and national and international journalists, came to the defense of editor Natalie Krittoef due to the phone number leak. It should be noted that while the case of editor Natalie Krittoef went viral and at the same time generated sympathy, a second leak occurred of phone numbers linked to journalists attending "La Mañanera." These were later exploited by trolls and bots on social media to increase hate speech and threats against independent journalists who weren’t antagonistic with the AMLO’s administration.The inaction of organizations such as Article 19 in these cases was already expected. While the organization expressed concern about data leaking from more than 300 journalists attending "La Mañanera," an incident that was revealed on January 26 of this year, for the second leak, they stood silently.


Finally, the propaganda campaign "Change the Number," a campaign carried out by female journalists and actresses very active in the Mexican opposition such as Areli Paz, Paula Ordorica, Azucena Uresti, Lourdes Mendoza, and Denisse Dresser, where through a message on social networks, the journalist said, they were going to leak her number so that people could call them. For those who called expecting to get in touch with the journalists, they only found a pre-recorded message about the number of journalists killed in Mexico. Additionally, two of the profiles of the journalists who promoted this campaign, Denisse Dresser, and Azucena Uresti, were selected as possible moderators in the debates that will be held to choose the next president of Mexico, both women with a biased position towards the interests of the Frente Amplio; the coalition of parties consisting of PRI, PAN, and PRD. the current opposition to the AMLO’s government.


In a Mexico where there have been 169 journalist murdered, because of investigating links between organized crime and different levels of government, from federal to state and municipal levels, so, reducing the issue to AMLO's statements and responses as the cause of this increase of violence towards journalist seems a little bit reductive, instead of not holding the judicial power accountable for failing to initiate effective investigation lines to clarify the journalist’s murders in Mexico.


Duration: 8 minutes   Recorded: 2024-03-09   #LatinAmerica #Mexico #Repression #Disinformation


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