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Mexico retaliates against EU lawmakers’ criticism of president’s anti-media stance

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks to members of the media, about the country not sending arms to Ukraine after Ukrainian representatives had asked the country's Senate for arms and military assistance a day earlier at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico March 4, 2022. Mexico Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

On Thursday, Mexico chastised EU parliamentarians after the European Parliament passed a resolution encouraging President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to tone down his attacks on the media in a country where journalists have been killed in large numbers.

The resolution “notes with concern the systematic and tough critiques used by the Mexican Government’s highest authorities against journalists.”

The news: Lopez Obrador’s government responded with a stormy response, claiming that his opponents are part of a coordinated effort to destabilise his administration and hinder what he portrays as his crusade to root out entrenched corruption in Mexico.

What are they saying: “It’s unfortunate that like sheep you join the reactionary and coup-like strategy of the corrupt group that opposes (the administration),” the government of Mexico said in a statement addressed to the European parliament late on Thursday.

  • Earlier, during a routine news conference, Lopez Obrador said that the criticism he has received over journalist homicides is akin to a covert coup conducted by media companies.
  • “It’s a kind of coup. It’s no longer the traditional military coup, it’s a soft coup with the power of the media that generally controls public opinion,” said the president.

What’s going on: Following the assassination of at least six journalists in Mexico so far this year, the European Parliament passed a resolution urging Mexico to “ensure that human rights defenders and journalists can continue their activities without fear of reprisal.”

  • However, the plan was rebuffed by Lopez Obrador’s government, which claimed that Mexico was a pacifist country that did not provide armaments to any country “as you are doing now,” in an apparent allusion to EU assistance for Ukraine’s efforts to resist Russian invasion.

Facts and figures: According to human rights organisation Article 19, 145 journalists were slain in Mexico between 2000 and 2021, making it one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in the world.

  • With 12 murders, 2017 was the worst year in recent history, followed by 2010 with ten.
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