It is not easy to get up every morning and read, one after another, news of atrocities that happen in this country. Although there are horrors in other places on this unhappy planet, those here touch us closely and weigh more, corroding the hope that, after years of accumulated violence, something will change. Perhaps ridiculous expectation but a glimmer of hope at last. At this start of the day and week, you realize that you live in a devastated country, where even the word atrocity is insufficient to say what it is and what you feel about it. The words seem to be empty of meaning. But this Monday, like other days, we must cling to think about that reality that, even from afar, moves us; cling to reflection in the midst of the media noise that that murder, that desecration, that massacre will take away in a few hours, with some distraction; cling to the word that helps to think against the one that minimizes, hides, disqualifies the terrible, and attacks those who say and write, denounce, the terror experienced and the conditions that make it possible.
On Sunday afternoon, journalist Lourdes Maldonado, who dealt with issues of corruption and politics, was murdered in Tijuana, according to Animal Politico. In 2019, she attended a morning conference to ask for the support of the president in resolving a labor lawsuit of more than 6 years with the then candidate for governor Jaime Bonilla, previously the owner of a media outlet where she worked. Maldonado raised her problem as a matter of labor justice because the process had suddenly been reversed against her, to the benefit of Bonilla, which suggests abuse of influence. His intervention points to one of the failings of this government, later more evident in the cases of Salgado Macedonio and other political actors: the lack of ethics that leads to exalting or protecting characters whose conduct has been publicly questioned and/or denounced, who they should even be investigated for allegations of serious crimes.
In a city where all kinds of criminals have thrived for decades, perhaps the motive was not “political,” as the president claimed. This does not diminish the seriousness of the case or the responsibility of the State, in particular the federal government. Maldonado is the second journalist murdered in Tijuana and the third in the country in January alone. In this six-year term, there have already been 28 journalists who have fallen under the arms of criminals (organized or not, political or not), in the shadow of impunity perpetuated and favored by the indifference of a government that maintains a protection mechanism for journalists and defenders who it doesn’t work and it didn’t protect her. It is just a simulation mechanism for external consumption.
These murders, the official discourse will say, did not arise in 2018. True. But that does not justify the fact that Mexico today is, together with Afghanistan (ravaged by war and chaos), the most dangerous place to practice journalism. Less justifies that the presidential speech continues to disqualify critical media and journalists and that the subordinates in the states join him, in an effort to minimize and ignore what it means to kill those who document atrocities, corruption, abuses of power and daily violence that they devastate the lives of millions of people and degrade social life. They may feel that it is in their best interest to let those uncomfortable voices be silenced, if not to silence them themselves. They are wrong.
The effects of impunity and violence, past and present, are already terrible. What is unbearable today is that the unpunished murders of journalists are just another extreme manifestation of the rottenness of a country where the body of a baby can be unearthed with impunity in Iztapalapa, cross state lines, put in a prison in Puebla and thrown in the trash. While the cynicism and frivolity in the morning and in the “opposition” (with its unpresentable candidates) continue… unperturbed.
She is a professor of literature and gender and cultural criticism. Doctor in Latin American literature from the University of Chicago (1996), with a master’s degree in history from the same university (1988) and a bachelor’s degree in social sciences (ITAM, 1986).