Journalist Who Feared for Her Life Murdered in Tijuana

Lourdes Maldonado had just won a protracted legal dispute with the former governor

Lourdes Maldonado was under the protection of a federal program for human rights defenders and journalists.

By Mexico News Daily

HAVANA TIMES – A journalist was shot dead in her car in Tijuana, Baja California, on Sunday night.

Lourdes Maldonado, formerly a journalist at Mexico’s biggest television news network, Televisa, told President López Obrador that she feared for her life in a morning news conference in March 2019.

Maldonado was in a legal dispute with the former governor of Baja California, Jaime Bonilla, for unfair dismissal and the non-payment of salary and was being given protection under the federal mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists.

“I’m doing this because he is a powerful character in politics who does not intend to pay me … That’s why I’m here asking for your support, because you’ve said that not paying your salary to employees is unfair and is even a sin,” she said at the news conference on March 26, 2019.

On Wednesday, Maldonado won her lawsuit against Bonilla. Federal authorities then entered the offices of Bonilla’s media company PSN, where Maldonado used to work.

Later on Wednesday, Lourdes accused Bonilla of corruption. “He is a tax evader, a corrupt person … it is not convenient for him to have a journalist investigating his accounts in PSN,” she said. “He can be put in jail for tax evasion … the man is a tax evader who has never paid taxes,” she added.

The president addressed the murder at the morning press conference on Monday, and said no one should leap to conclusions. “You have to see the motive, if there is a link with the labor suit … you shouldn’t automatically link a labor lawsuit to a crime, it is not responsible to advance any charge,” he said.

Maldonado is the second journalist killed in Tijuana in less than a week. On January 17, photojournalist Margarito Martínez was shot dead. Another journalist, José Luis Gamboa, was killed in Veracruz city on January 10.

The governor of Baja California, Marina del Pilar Ávila Olmeda, said a special prosecutor will lead an elite team to investigate the murders of Maldonado and Martínez.

She added that murders of the press were an attack on the freedom of expression of all citizens.

Mexico is the most dangerous country in the world to practice journalism, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

That said, resolution for the murder of any journalist or activist in Mexico remains unlikely: impunity reigns in more than 90% of such murder cases, Deputy Human Rights Minister Alejandro Encinas said in December. In cases where the culprits were identified, almost half were local officials.

With reports from Reforma and El Sol de México