By David Ramos
Father Martín Lara Becerril, spokesman for the Diocese of Querétaro, lamented Wednesday the murder of journalists in Mexico and the attempts to silence them, and encouraged those working in the media to have “great courage.”
At a Feb. 16 press conference, Fr. Becerril said that “it is a real shame that in a democratic country like Mexico there are deaths and violent deaths against journalists.”
The Mexican priest said that “a journalist fulfills a function in society, which is to inform.”
“Wanting to silence the voices of reporters and often the critical voices is really something very unfortunate,” he stressed.
According to the Mexican press, the first three years of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s term have been the most violent for journalists, with 30 homicides, six in 2022 alone.
The first three years of López Obrador’s term have also been the most violent on record in Mexican history, with more than 100,000 homicides.
A group of journalists staged a protest Feb. 15 at the federal Chamber of Deputies to demand justice.
The next day, at López Obrador’s morning press conference, a group of journalists decided not to ask questions as a show of protest and solidarity with their murdered colleagues.
On that occasion, journalist Rodolfo Montes told the Mexican president, “we want to stay alive.”
López Obrador has also been involved in a controversy by disclosing at a Feb. 11 press conference apparently private information about the personal income of journalist Carlos Loret de Mola, who has published reports on the allegedly luxurious lifestyle of the president’s son, José Ramón López Beltrán, who is living in Houston, pointing to an alleged conflict of interest involving the government-owned oil company Pemex.
Loret de Mola responded on social media, pointing out that López Obrador, whom he described as “an aspiring dictator,” “is cornered” because “he doesn’t know how to wriggle out of the scandal over his son’s mansion.”
The Mexican journalist said that the information released by López Obrador “puts me at risk by revealing inflated and false amounts of alleged income. This is extremely serious. It’s a crime.”
Various Mexican and international media criticized López Obrador’s attitude toward the work of journalists.
The Washington Post’s Post Opinión section, where Loret de Mola is a contributing columnist, tweeted Feb. 11 that “we condemn the escalation of detraction, insults and use of confidential data from the Mexican government to attack Carlos Loret de Mola … The State and its functionaries must guarantee freedom of speech and the press.”
At the Feb. 16 press conference, the spokesman for the Diocese of Querétaro underscored his desire to “encourage journalists” because in the face of the violence they suffer in the country, “obviously fear comes on a personal level, often the possibility comes of also suffering some of this violence.”
“This work of the media is something necessary in society and their service as communicators is very necessary. Take courage, don’t be afraid,” he encouraged.
“Truth is the fundamental criterion of news media and I invite you to communicate it with great courage,” he added.
Fr. Becerril then commended the murdered journalists “and their families, to God, and we deeply lament all these losses.”