Mexico City, April 29, 2019 — Mexican federal authorities must guarantee the safety of Juan Pardinas, the editor-in-chief of Mexico City newspaper Reforma, who has recently faced harassment and death threats online, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Pardinas has received a barrage of online harassment and threats since Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador criticized the newspaper’s reporting in an April 23 press briefing, according to news reports.
“The threats against Juan Pardinas are a clear illustration of the problem of online harassment against Mexican media critical of the presidency,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ’s Mexico representative. “In a context of extreme violence against journalists in Mexico, the Mexican federal government cannot turn away from its responsibility to protect the press.”
Pardinas, who has been the paper’s chief editor since December 12, 2018, told local press freedom group Article 19 that the threats were tied to a Reforma article published on April 22 about increased security at the president’s residence due to alleged threats to his life by the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel, an organized crime group. The article mentioned the address of the president’s residence, which is public record.
During his daily press briefing on April 23, President López Obrador criticized Reforma for publishing his address, as seen in the official video of the briefing.
Following the briefing, the president’s supporters on Twitter accused the newspaper of colluding with organized crime, and dozens of users demanded that Pardinas’ home address be published, according to CPJ’s review of tweets from the time.
Pardinas told CPJ in a phone conversation on April 26 that he had received death threats and harassment, but declined to provide further comment, citing concerns for his safety.
In his daily press briefing on April 26, President López Obrador acknowledged the threats against Pardinas and said that his government had offered protective measures to the journalist.
Jesús Cantú, a spokesperson for the presidency, told CPJ on April 28 that the government was committed to guaranteeing Pardinas’ safety.
Mexican media organizations and journalists have recently reported a sharp increase in threats and online harassment over critical reporting of the López Obrador administration, according to news reports. Numerous journalists have told CPJ over the past few months that the harassment is often the direct result of being singled out for criticism by president López Obrador.
Mexico is the deadliest country for journalists in the Western hemisphere, according to CPJ research. Last year, at least four were murdered in the country in direct retaliation for their work.