Border journalists shaken after second reporter is gunned down in Tijuana in less than a week
Speaker 1: (00:00)
Demonstrations are planned today across Mexico to protest the deaths and intimidation of journalists. The latest victim Lordes Maldonado was found shot to death outside her Tijuana home on Sunday. It's the second shooting death of a journalist in Tijuana in a week. A third journalist was killed in ver Cruz or earlier this month, the recent death seemed to confirm Mexico's notorious reputation as the deadliest country for journalists in the Western hemisphere. Joining me is K P S reporter kitty Verado and kitty. Welcome. Thank
Speaker 2: (00:35)
You so much. It's a pleasure to be here.
Speaker 1: (00:38)
What do we know about the death of Lords? Muldau where and when was she found?
Speaker 2: (00:43)
Well, she was found on Sunday evening and she was shot to death inside of her car right outside her home. And that's really disturbing. Someone must have been either waiting for her, um, outside and obviously must have followed her home several times, knew exactly where she lived
Speaker 1: (01:00)
And she told people she yeared for her life. Didn't she?
Speaker 2: (01:03)
She did. You know, this is what I find really, um, unbelievable is that in 2019 lupus had the courage to stand up during a presidential press conference in front of a national audience and plead with the president, uh, under Manuel Lopez for help saying that she feared for her life.
Speaker 1: (01:23)
Do we know why she would've been a target? What kinds of stories she covered?
Speaker 2: (01:29)
Yeah, and she was a veteran reporter. She covered politics corruption for about 40 years and she had a, a blog and also a, a, a show and she had received threats for her previous work. And she was under, uh, a PR protection program for journalists, but she was also in a dispute for years with a former employer, an affiliate, uh, of a giant broadcaster owned by a man who became the governor of Vaca, California. And she was suing him for back wages and wrongful termination. And, uh, that's what she explained to the president during that news conferencing that she was receiving death threats. And after about a decade, it was reported that she won that lawsuit this week. And, um, I guess we have to note that the, the president of Mexico asked the public not to jump to conclusions and Bon himself did speak out saying that he feels terrible for what happened and has the utmost respect for journalists. And he said he had been working with her for years and denies any involvement, but also this is also notable the week that she was murdered, her car was vandalized. Um, and, uh, so she must have been terrified and, but she didn't tell anyone about that.
Speaker 1: (02:41)
And just last Friday, Maldonado spoke at a VI for photojournalist Marto Martinez. He was killed last Monday in Tijuana, was his death similar.
Speaker 2: (02:52)
It was. And that's what I find. So chilling both were shot outside of their homes. And as I said earlier, I, they were, they must have been followed home or someone was just waiting for them outside. In his case, he was leaving his home, uh, ready to go to work. And he was shot right outside of his car.
Speaker 1: (03:12)
You spoke with one of the friends of both journalists. Uh, what did she have to say about how these shootings have affected other journalists in Mexico?
Speaker 2: (03:21)
That's right. I spoke with, uh, a, a mutual friend of theirs, Alina CorpU, she's been a reporter for over 20 years, just an extraordinary reporter and, and, uh, extraordinary person. And she was just so worried and scared, not just for herself, but for all journalists.
Speaker 3: (03:40)
We have a question in our minds who could be the next one. I really want to say to you that my, my country, my city is safe for everyone, but it isn't true no more.
Speaker 1: (04:00)
Well, it's already well known that Mexico can be a dangerous country for journalists. Can you tell us some of those statistics?
Speaker 2: (04:09)
Yes. You know, ludas is actually the third murder this year and we're not even out of the first month. Another, another reporter was stabbed to death in the state of it at Cruz, about three weeks go and according to the committee to protect journalists, 18 reporters were killed in Mexico, just in the last two years. And that's about one every six weeks. That's not even counting the reporters that are missing that is really disturbing, but maybe a little bit of hope for the first time. I think ever, uh, the governor of the state of Vaka announced that she appointed, uh, a special prosecutor to the case and, and said in no uncertain terms that she was going to use every resource and all of the power of her office to bring these criminals to justice.
Speaker 1: (04:56)
I've been speaking with KPBS reporter, kitty Alvarado, kitty. Thank you so much. Thank you.
In 2019, Mexican journalist Lourdes Maldonado stood up during a news conference and pleaded with Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for help because she feared for her life.
On Sunday, she was gunned down outside her home in Tijuana. She is the second well-known reporter murdered in the border city in less than a week. Margarito Martinez was shot and killed outside of his Tijuana home on Jan. 17.
"I really want to say to you that my country, my city is safe for everyone, but it isn’t true, no more," said Aline Corpus, in tears as she shared what she sees as the hard truth about the place where she lives and works as a journalist.
She's been a reporter for more than 20 years and said reporters in the border region are feeling very vulnerable.
"I feel hopeless because we thought that with the murder of Margarito we have all the attention on Tijuana and we were, I don’t know, safe," she said. "And look what happened Lourdes was shot, so no, no we don’t feel safe in Tijuana."
She said Maldonado had just attended Martinez’s vigil and funeral, and that his death hit too close to home for her.
"She was very sad and I think she wasn’t okay," Corpus said.
She said Maldonado was a political reporter with over 40 years of experience and was passionate about covering corruption.
Martinez worked for over seven publications and covered crime. Corpus said he also helped reporters on this side of the border cover stories there. She said he was beloved by the journalism community because he took time to help new reporters, always had kind words and was just fun to be around.
"When we all knew about his murder it was a very personal thing for all the reporters in Tijuana," said Corpus, adding that reporters now have to navigate something no reporter should: covering the death of a colleague while trying to mourn their loss. "This time is very difficult for us, we have to cover and feel at the same time. So it’s not easy."
Natalie Southwick, the program director in Latin America and the Caribbean with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a nonprofit advocacy organization for reporters, said Maldonado is the third journalist to be murdered this month.
"One of the things that’s really striking about the three cases that we’ve seen in the last two weeks in Mexico is almost this sense of both frustration but exhaustion," she said. "You know Mexico is and continues to be the deadliest country in the hemisphere for journalists."
There is no political will to protect reporters and hold people accountable when they are threatened or killed, even when reporters ask for help, like Maldonado, Southwick said.
"There’s not always a desire to listen to them or to act on what they’re saying," she said. "And so that really emphasizes the failure by Mexican authorities to take these threats seriously, even when they’re right in front of their faces."
Speaker 1: (00:00)
A Mexican journalist was gunned down in front of her home in Tijuana on Sunday. This is the second reporter murdered there in a week. And the third, this month in Mexico, KPBS reporter kitty Verado spoke with a journalist and a friend of the two reporters killed, left in shock. After the shootings bang.
Speaker 2: (00:25)
This is journalist Lu mal in 2019 pleading with Mexican president Andre Lopez for help because she feared for her life. On Sunday. She was gunned down, outside her home in Tijuana. She's the second well known re Porter murdered in the border city in less than a week, Marto Martinez was shot and killed outside of his Tijuana home on January 17th.
Speaker 3: (00:50)
I really want to say to you that my, my country, my city is safe for everyone, but it isn't true.
Speaker 2: (01:04)
No more. Alina CorpU has been a border region journalist for over 20 years. Mal, Nado and Martinez were her friends she's devastated over their deaths. She says, reporters in the region are feeling very vulnerable. I
Speaker 3: (01:18)
Feel ly hopeless and later what happened was shot. So no, no, we don't feel safe in Tijuana.
Speaker 2: (01:31)
She says ma Nado had just attended Martinez's vigil and funeral and his death hit too close to home.
Speaker 3: (01:38)
She was very, she was very sad. I think she was she wasn't okay.
Speaker 2: (01:43)
Reporters there have to navigate what no reporter should.
Speaker 3: (01:47)
This time. It's very difficult to us. We have to cover and feel at the same time at the, at the same time. So, um, it's not easy.
Speaker 2: (01:57)
Natalie Southwick is with the committee to protect journalists, a nonprofit advocacy organiz for reporters. She says, man, Nado is the third journalist to be murdered in Mexico this month.
Speaker 4: (02:09)
Almost this sense of both frustration, but exhaustion, you know, Mexico is and continues to be the deadliest country in the hemisphere of her
Speaker 2: (02:18)
Journalists. She says the problem there's no political will to protect reporters and hold people accountable. Even when reporters ask for help, like my C PJ has documented and is investigating 18 in the last two years,
Speaker 4: (02:34)
That's an average of one every six weeks. That's a horrifying statistic and that's not something that can continue. We're going to lose access to information. There's all of the country that are effectively
Speaker 2: (02:46)
News deserts. Alina says while she and her colleagues will carry on their work, they can't help. But wonder the obvious.
Speaker 3: (02:54)
We have a question in our minds who could be the next one?
Speaker 2: (02:59)
Katie Verado K PBS news.
Southwick said everyone should care about the staggering numbers of journalists being killed in Mexico, especially because of its proximity to the U.S. CPJ has documented and is investigating 18 reporter murders in the last two years.
"That’s an average of one every six weeks," she said. "That’s a horrifying statistic and that’s not something that can continue, we’re going to lose access to information there’s already parts of the country that are effectively news deserts."
Everyone can do something to support journalists, and in particular, politicians, who often lash out at journalists for doing their jobs, adding their words have an effect, Southwick said.
Corpus said while she and her colleagues will carry on with their work they can’t help but wonder the obvious.
"We have a question on our minds, who could be the next one?" she said.
Reporters in Mexico have planned demonstrations in Mexico, including in Tijuana, on Tuesday.