A prominent Mexican radio and television reporter says two gunmen tried to kill him near his home in Mexico City, renewing concerns for the safety of journalists in the Central American country.
Ciro Gomez Leyva, one of Mexico’s best-known journalists, said in a social media post early on Friday that the attack occurred shortly before midnight.
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“Two hundred metres [650 feet] from my house, two people on a motorcycle shot at me, apparently with the clear intention of killing me,” Gomez Leyva wrote. “The armour of my truck that I was driving saved me, and I have reported the matter to the authorities.”
He shared photos of the impact of several bullets on his car. The bullets appear to have failed to penetrate the window of his vehicle.
Mexico has seen an uptick of deadly violence against media professionals this year. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a US-based watchdog, 13 journalists have been killed in the country so far in 2022, including three who were targetted in “retaliation for their reporting”.
Mexico also leads the world in the number of missing journalists – 15 cases since 2005, the committee said this year.
Mexico is now the deadliest country for reporters outside war zones. In its year-end report, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said 20 percent of journalists killed worldwide were slain in Mexico. That, along with killings in Haiti and Brazil, helped make the Americas the “world’s most dangerous region for media” in 2022, according to the report.
The targeting of journalists in Mexico has often been blamed on organised crime, but press freedom advocates have criticised authorities and the country’s weak legal system for failing to adequately address the issue.
“While investigating attacks on journalists, CPJ has found that authorities are often slow to respond, fail to apply best practices to evidence gathering, and appear to prioritize presenting suspects as soon as possible, rather than conducting a thorough investigation,” the group said in a statement in August.
“Moreover, it is sometimes difficult to determine whether official investigations are trustworthy, as authorities allegedly collude with criminal gangs or are involved in the attacks themselves,” it said.
The attack on Gomez Leyva sparked condemnations across Mexico, including from President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who often verbally clashes with the reporter.
“He is a journalist, a human being, but what is more, he is a leader of public opinion, and injuries to a person like Ciro creates a lot of political instability,” Lopez Obrador said.
“We have differences,” the president admitted. “They are notorious and public. We are going to continue to have them, but it is completely reprehensible for anyone to be attacked.”
Gomez Leyva said he had no idea of who was behind the attack.
He said he had only received threats five years ago after publishing a story about extortion at a Mexico City prison. Following that 2017 threat, the media company he works for insisted he use a bullet-resistant Jeep Cherokee.