Mexican Journalist Receives Death Threats in Tlaxcala

Mexican reporter Alberto Amaro Jordán received death threats against him, his family, and his bodyguards on May 20, 2024. He has been enrolled in a federal protection program for journalists after receiving numerous threats in recent years. (Photo: Amnesty International/Carlos Mendoza)

By The Committee to Protect Journalists

HAVANA TIMES – Mexican authorities must immediately investigate death threats directed at reporter Alberto Amaro Jordán, his family, and his bodyguards and take steps to guarantee his safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Thursday.

Unknown individuals driving a red truck passed by the residence of Amaro, founder and editor of Tlaxcala state-based news website La Prensa de Tlaxcala, and yelled death threats at the reporter’s bodyguards stationed at the front gate at approximately 7 p.m. on Monday, May 20 in the city of Apizaco, in the central Mexican state of Tlaxcala, Amaro told CPJ.

“They told the bodyguards that they were going to ‘kill us all,’ after which they drove away,” Amaro told CPJ, adding that they drove by again shortly after and repeated the threats. “The bodyguards told me that they may have been intoxicated.”

Amaro is currently enrolled in a protection program sanctioned by the federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists after receiving numerous threats over the past years.

“It is deeply concerning that reporter Alberto Amaro Jordán continues to receive brazen death threats, even as he is under the protection of the Mexican government. These threats are a clear sign of the violence that continues to plague the Mexican press,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ’s Mexico representative. “CPJ calls on Mexican authorities to investigate the threats Amaro and his family face and to strengthen the safety measures before this case becomes yet another footnote in Mexico’s abysmal track record of keeping journalists safe.”

Amaro told CPJ he believed it was possible the threats were related to a May 15 reporting trip he took to the nearby municipality of Ocotlán with human rights activist Viridiana Baena Leyva. Baena is also a member of Madres Buscadoras (Searching Mothers), a national network searching for missing family members and demanding the Mexican federal government address the widely reported forced disappearance of nearly 100,000 people.

Amaro and Baena traveled to an empty lot in Ocotlán to investigate rumors of clandestine graves. Upon arrival, the pair were immediately watched by several people in the area; Amaro told CPJ that he perceived the observation as threatening. When they left the area, a state police car followed them for more than 10 miles.

Amaro added that on May 20, the same day he received the threats, Tlaxcala police arrested a former policeman and two women in Ocotlán on suspicion of having been involved in the disappearance of an Uber driver in the areaThe reporter said the arrest may be related to the threats he received, considering the timing and that he and Baena were followed after visiting Ocotlán.  

CPJ’s several telephone calls to the office of the Tlaxcala State Prosecutor’s Office on May 21 and May 22 were not answered.

An official of the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists who asked for anonymity as they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly told CPJ that the agency was made aware of the threats and is currently investigating, adding that Amaro was already enrolled in “one of the strongest protection schedules.”

The Mexican federal government created the mechanism in 2012 after years of pressure from journalists and civil society organizations to address the constant threats and attacks against defenders and media workers. In March 2024, CPJ noted that eight journalists had been killed while enrolled in the mechanism in the last seven years and urgently called for the government to strengthen and reform the institution.

Amaro detailed the threats, attacks, and harassment that he has been subjected to — including threats by three men who claimed to be members of one of Mexico’s most prominent drug trafficking gangs, the Sinaloa cartel, in a joint report published by CPJ and Amnesty International in March 2024. In March 2021, a mayor of a nearby municipality attempted to drive Amaro off the road.

Mexico remains one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists. CPJ has found that the high levels of violence against journalists can be attributed in part to the failure of state and federal authorities to make the environment safer for reporters or even take crimes against the press seriously.

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