Mexico irate at EU criticism of journalist, activist deaths

March 11, 2022 GMT
FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a ceremony to commemorate in Mexico City's main square the Zocalo, Aug. 13, 2021. President Lopez Obrador said Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, that high profile journalists like Jorge Ramos of Univision and Carmen Aristigui, one of Mexico´s most recognized journalists, should make the information of their salaries available to the public. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)
FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a ceremony to commemorate in Mexico City's main square the Zocalo, Aug. 13, 2021. President Lopez Obrador said Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, that high profile journalists like Jorge Ramos of Univision and Carmen Aristigui, one of Mexico´s most recognized journalists, should make the information of their salaries available to the public. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)
FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a ceremony to commemorate in Mexico City's main square the Zocalo, Aug. 13, 2021. President Lopez Obrador said Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, that high profile journalists like Jorge Ramos of Univision and Carmen Aristigui, one of Mexico´s most recognized journalists, should make the information of their salaries available to the public. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)
FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a ceremony to commemorate in Mexico City's main square the Zocalo, Aug. 13, 2021. President Lopez Obrador said Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, that high profile journalists like Jorge Ramos of Univision and Carmen Aristigui, one of Mexico´s most recognized journalists, should make the information of their salaries available to the public. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)
FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a ceremony to commemorate in Mexico City's main square the Zocalo, Aug. 13, 2021. President Lopez Obrador said Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, that high profile journalists like Jorge Ramos of Univision and Carmen Aristigui, one of Mexico´s most recognized journalists, should make the information of their salaries available to the public. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Mexican government has issued an irate response to European Union criticism of journalist killings in Mexico, and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador accused European Parliament members Friday of having a “colonialist mentality.”

The open letter sent late Thursday criticized EU support for Ukraine, and called European Parliament members “sheep.”

“It is unfortunate that you vote like sheep to join the reactionary and coup-mongering strategy of the corrupt group opposed to the Fourth Transformation,” as López Obrador calls his administration. The president acknowledged he wrote the letter himself.

The EU Parliament approved a resolution Thursday urging López Obrador to stop his harsh verbal attacks on reporters who criticize him, and ensure their safety. The resolution passed by 607 to 2, with 73 abstentions.

A record seven journalists have been murdered in Mexico in two months, making it the most dangerous country in the world for press workers. Press groups say López Obrador’s daily criticisms of journalists, whom he calls “conservatives” and “mercenaries,” make them more vulnerable to violence.

ADVERTISEMENT

López Obrador claimed erroneously Friday that only five journalists have been killed so far this year. He said suspects have been arrested in four of those cases.

López Obrador is a proud nationalist who angrily rejects any outside criticism of Mexico. He has lashed out at nongovernmental organizations that receive foreign funding.

His new letter even pulled European backing for Ukraine into the issue. López Obrador’s administration has steadfastly refused to impose sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine and he has limited himself to appeals for peace on all sides.

“Mexico is a pacifist country that has opted for nonviolence and we support dialogue, not war; we don’t send weapons to any country under any circumstance, not like what you are doing now,” the Mexican letter states.

López Obrador has frequently tangled with Spain, demanding an apology for the cruelties of the 1521 conquest of Mexico, something which Spain has never issued.

In the letter Thursday, Mexico wrote: “You should know, European Parliament, that Mexico is no longer anybody’s colony.”

The EU resolution “calls on the authorities, and in particular the highest ones, to refrain from issuing any communication which could stigmatize human rights defenders, journalists and media workers, exacerbate the atmosphere against them or distort their lines of investigation.”

It encourages Mexico “to strengthen state institutions and consolidate the rule of law with a view to tackling some of the structural problems at the root of the human rights violations.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Journalists are often the targets of Mexico’s drug cartels, which seek to intimidate and manipulate coverage of their activities and their rivals. Local politicians and government officials are also frequently linked to murders, according to the government, which has acknowledged that impunity in those killings runs above 90%.

In February, the Inter American Press Association called on the president to “immediately suspend the aggressions and insults, because such attacks from the top of power encourage violence against the press.”

In early March, gunmen killed Juan Carlos Muñiz, who covered crime for the online news site Testigo Minero in the violent state of Zacatecas.

Jorge Camero, the director of an online news site who was until recently a municipal worker in the northern state of Sonora, was killed in late February.

In early February, Heber López, director of the online news site Noticias Web, was shot to death in the southern state of Oaxaca.

Roberto Toledo, a camera operator and video editor for the online site Monitor Michoacan, was shot Jan. 31 as he prepared for an interview in the western state of Michoacan.

Reporter Lourdes Maldonado López was found shot to death inside her car in Tijuana on Jan. 23.

Crime photographer Margarito Martínez was gunned down outside his Tijuana home on Jan. 17.

Reporter José Luis Gamboa was killed in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz on Jan. 10.