MEXICO CITY (AP) — One of Mexico’s best-known journalists said Friday that two gunmen on a motorcycle tried to kill him in a late-night attack on a Mexico City street, raising even further safety fears for reporters in a country dangerous for the profession.
The attack on Ciro Gómez Leyva drew condemnation from media professionals and politicians, including President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who often verbally spars with the radio and television journalist.
Gómez Leyva posted a description of the attack and photos of his bullet-ridden vehicle on social media.
He said the attack occurred just before midnight on a street near his home, and that he was saved by the fact his SUV had bullet-proofing.
“Two hundred yards from my house, two people on a motorcycle shot at me, apparently with the clear intention of killing me,” Gómez Leyva wrote. Photos showed at least two bullets had impacted the driver’s side window of the vehicle.
The Mexico City’s prosecutors office said it had opened an investigation.
This year has been among the deadliest ever for Mexican media workers, with 15 killed so far. But the killings and almost all the attacks have targeted journalists in provincial towns.
“He is a journalist, a human being, but what is more, he is a leader of public opinion, and injuries to a person like Ciro creates a lot of political instability,” López Obrador said.
“We have differences, they are notorious and public, we are going to continue to have them,” the president said, “but it is completely reprehensible for anyone to be attacked.”
In his popular morning radio program, Gómez Leyva said of the president, “I don’t have differences with him. We do our work as journalists.”
Visibly shaken, Gómez Leyva said he had no idea of who could have been behind the attack.
He said the only threat he had received was several years ago, after he published a story about extortion at a Mexico City prison. Following that 2017 story, the media company he works for had insisted he use a bulletproof Jeep Cherokee.
He was attacked as he drove home from his workplace on the south side of Mexico City.
“At that moment I heard, I believe, two shots, perhaps more,” Gómez Leyva recalled. “I turned around and saw a person shooting at me from aboard a motorcycle.”
López Obrador and Mexico City’s police chief pledged that the attack would be investigated and those responsible brought to justice.
But fellow reporter Carlos Loret de Mola noted that López Obrador “condemned the attack, and minutes later, returned to criticizing the press.”
In the past, López Obrador has used government tax receipts to publish charts showing how much Loret allegedly earns.
López Obrador is notoriously intolerant of criticism. The president frequently uses his two-hour daily morning press briefings to accuse Gómez Leyva and other well-known journalists who criticize him of being part of a conservative conspiracy against his administration.
He has called them names like “sold out,” “mercenaries,” and “thugs.” Press groups say the president’s hostile comments have contributed to making journalists less safe in Mexico.
2022 has been one of the deadliest ever for journalists in Mexico, which is now considered the most dangerous country for reporters outside a war zone.
While organized crime is often involved in journalist killings, small town officials or politicians with political or criminal motivations are often suspects as well. Journalists running small news outlets in Mexico’s interior are easy targets.
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