The Real Perpetrator behind the Murders of Mexico’s Journalists
By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
On Thursday, Feb. 10, yet another Mexican journalist was murdered, the fifth so far this year, and the 50th since President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) took office three years ago.
And not surprisingly, the following day, Friday, Feb. 11, President Lopez Obrador couldn’t be bothered to express condolences to Heber López’s family or even mention the dead reporter’s name until two hours and 18 minutes into his daily press conference — this time broadcast from Hermosillo, in the northern state of Sonora — and then, only after a journalist in the conference brought up the topic.
AMLO’s reaction to López’s death was also not surprising: He said that the murder was “regrettable” and would be investigated, and then quickly moved on to other, more pertinent subjects, like how honest he is and how committed to justice he is.
But long before the mention of Heber López’s death, AMLO spent a full 45 minutes of his two-and-a-half-hour-long presser attacking the media, in this case, specifically, renowned journalist Carlos Loret de Mola, who last month committed the unforgivable sin of exposing the fact that AMLO’s eldest son lived in a million-dollar mansion in Houston, Texas, that just “coincidentally” happened to belong to a senior executive of the Baker Hughes company, which currently holds contracts with the López Obrador administration for more than $151 million in works for the state-owned oil giant Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex).
Loret de Mola’s exposé of José Ramón López Beltrán (one of many AMLO relatives benefiting nicely from their prodigiously nepotistic associations with the president) was based on solid, well-documented evidence collected by his web news program Latinus and the nonprofit thinktank Mexicans against Corruption.
Consequently, AMLO’s only defense of his eldest son’s lavish lifestyle in Texas were: 1) “well, the money belongs to his wife,” not López Beltrán, 2) “it’s not fair to attack my son,” and 3) an implausible statement by the Baker Hughes executive saying that he didn’t know to whom he was renting his house.
None of those excuses hold water, and since the usually-Teflon-coated AMLO hasn’t been able to shrug off the sticky fallout that Loret de Mola’s report has released, AMLO on Friday let loose the full furies of his bitter vengeance against the journalist.
First, the president proceeded to present what he claimed was a breakdown of Loret de Moya’s annual income — replete with a slide show and graphics — alleging that the journalist had made a hefty income of 35.2 million pesos in 2021. (Loret de Mola later stated that that information was false, and since there were no sources quoted by the president verifying his numbers, there is certainly room for doubt that his “otros datos” are valid.)
Then, AMLO began to compare his own salary — which officially totals 2.11 million pesos a year, but as my colleague Alejandro Envila Fisher so astutely pointed out in his column in Pulse News Mexico on Jan. 19, if analyzed with the massive benefits included with his post, adds up to a whopping 1.37 million pesos a month, or 16.44 million pesos a year — whining that it wasn’t fair for Loret de Mola to be making more than he did.
But even if we were to assume that the figure that AMLO gave for Loret de Mola’s income in 2021 were true — which would constitute a considerable leap of faith, given the president’s propensity for making false statements (as of the end of August of last year, the independent political consulting firm Spin had confirmed that he had made at least 61,000 false statements during his daily press conferences) — making a good living is not a crime.
In the first place, Loret de Mola is a private citizen and is not obliged to disclose his income (nor is the president legally allowed to disclose it).
And if Loret de Mola did indeed earn 35.2 million pesos in 2021, good for him. It was money earned from hard work (not like AMLO, who spends a minimum of two hours a day endlessly telling a bunch of fatuous followers how “honest” he is, rather than bothering to do his job as Mexico’s head of state).
But AMLO’s assault on Loret de Mola went even further than the divulgence of his supposed income.
No longer pretending that there is a Chinese wall between his office and the federal tax service, AMLO blatantly stated that he intended to go after Loret de Mola on a fiscal witch hunt (the president’s own modern-day version of the Spanish Inquisition), and to persecute him for any unpaid taxes.
Ever since he took office in December 2018, López Obrador has consistently used the Finance and Public Credit Secretariat (SHCP, or Hacienda) as his own personal weapon against his enemies, having the Treasury launch audits against all those he deems to have wronged him, and even jailing those found “guilty” of owing past taxes.
In the past, AMLO has claimed that the SHCP acts independently from the presidency (although he has made no secret about the fact that he wants all political power and oversights to be handled exclusively by him and his band of cohorts).
But on Friday, he was so irate that he finally let the cat out of the bag and inadvertently admitted that Hacienda takes its orders directly from him.
AMLO came right out and said that he would have Loret de Mola “audited” for his alleged income (even though Loret de Mola later pointed out that while AMLO claimed that he had “made millions” from Televisa in 2021, in fact, the journalist had stopped working there in 2019).
Loret de Mola offended AMLO and now the president has him in his fiscal crosshairs.
That constitutes a criminal act by López Obrador.
But even more criminal is AMLO’s endless torrent of assaults against Mexico’s journalists, his verbal carte blanche for anyone who doesn’t like what they say or publish to kill them in order to shut them up.
Even the administration’s own head of the so-called Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists (MPPDDHP), Enrique Irazoque, admitted last month that in cases of attacks against human rights activists and journalists, “impunity is greater than 90 percent.”
The mostly unknown assailants against the 50 journalists who have died under the president’s watch are clearly guilty of murder.
But the real mastermind behind those killings is obvious: Andrés Manuel López Obrador.