Mexican president hits out at EU ‘lies’ over rhetoric denigrating media | Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador
Mexico’s government has lashed out at the ‘corruption, lies and hypocrisy’ of the European Parliament after its members urged its populist president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to moderate his rhetoric disparaging the media after the murder of at least six Mexican journalists.
The Mexican press has been bereaved this year by a succession of assassinations targeting media workers in what was already one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.
On Thursday, more than 600 MEPs overwhelmingly backed a resolution condemning the killings and expressing concern over López Obrador’s use of populist rhetoric “to denigrate and intimidate independent journalists, media owners and activists”.
Such behavior contributes to “an atmosphere of relentless unrest towards independent journalists”, MEPs said, calling for “concrete, swift and effective” measures to end violence against human rights defenders and the journalists.
The resolution appears to have infuriated López Obrador who – like fellow regional populists Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro – is known to harass journalists and bristles with questions from the press.
In a singular and cantankerous statement, the Mexican government retaliated by telling the European Parliament: “Remember that we are no longer anyone’s colony. Mexico is a free, independent and sovereign country.
“If we were in the situation that you describe in your pamphlet, our president would not be supported by 66% of the citizens”, adds the press release, qualifying the MEPs as “sheep” of the “reactionary putschists” who would have tried to derail the project by López Obrador. government.
On Friday morning, López Obrador, or Amlo as he is known, went on the offensive, blaming the “slanderous” European resolve of conservative politicians “with a colonialist mentality”.
Mexico’s president, who said he helped draft the statement, also appeared to play down the recent murders of Mexican journalists, two of whom were shot outside their homes.
“Unfortunately, around 5,000 Mexicans have been murdered in the first two and a half months of this year – and of those 5,000, five were journalists,” the 68-year-old nationalist said during his daily morning press conference. .
Amlo’s posture aroused bewilderment and anger. “Scandalous, insane, shameful” tweeted Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico’s former ambassador to the United States, compares the government’s statement to the kind of invective usually associated with diplomats from authoritarian regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua or Cuba.
“What a pitiful statement” wrote Denise Dresser, political analyst and writer. “It demeans the government. It demeans the country. »
Amlo repeatedly targeted journalists during the first half of his six-year tenure. Where Trump and Brazil’s far-right President Bolsonaro lashed out at “fake news” or “trash” media, the Mexican leader calls critics “salesmen” of members of the “take fifi(press brat).
Last year, Amlo began hosting a segment of his morning press briefing titled “Quién es quién en las mentiras” (“The Who’s Who of Lies”), to denounce so-called “fake news” journalists.
However, in recent months Amlo has stepped up his attacks in a bid, some say, to deflect attention from clumsy allegations that his son lived in a luxury Houston mansion owned by a former employee of a US oil services company. who had made tens of millions of dollars. deal with Mexican oil giant Pemex.
Amlo hit back, publicly revealing the alleged salary of Carlos Loret de Mola, one of the journalists behind the allegations – private details many believe were illegally acquired from the tax authorities.
The Mexican president’s stance has drawn increasing international criticism, with the Washington Post recently denouncing Amlo’s “brazen attempt to discredit and intimidate” Loret de Mola and exposing the recent killings.
“The escalating violence is a stain on Mexico’s democratic record,” the newspaper’s editorial board said last month, urging the Biden administration to defend press freedom.
When asked about these reviews, Amlo burst out laughing.