Ex-Press Train

AMLO takes aim at independent media for criticising his Mayan Train project.

AMLO’s latest target is the independent investigative media sector. Last week he accused outlets such as Animal Politico and eight Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) of receiving foreign financial support from the likes of Ford Foundation, W.K. Kellogg and Rockefeller to attack his ‘emblematic’ Maya Train project.

Soon after, the CSOs and Animal Politico denied these accusations with the latter coming out to defend itself by explaining that part of the grants received were awarded even before AMLO’s arrival to power and that all the other grants have been used for investigative journalism covering impunity, corruption, inequality and climate change.

“The results of the government’s actions are unclear or frankly, a disaster!”

Media consultant in Mexico.

The CSOs were also quick to react to these attacks by raising their voices and providing full explanations. All of them accused the government of pursuing a smear campaign and defamation without any foundation. The latest allegations come a week after the Secretariat of Public Function (SFP) banned federal agencies of advertising with Nexos magazine following a ‘disproportionate’ sanction it was given.

Our sources believe this is part of AMLO’s ‘Trump-esque’ strategy to control the press. A media consultant explains, “First, he puts pressure on media organization by withdrawing official advertising. Second, he sanctions critical media outlets (e.g. Nexos). Third, he strengthens pro-government groups such as El Soberano.” A digital media executive agrees, “There is a clear intention to control the press …. it’s about protecting the presidential image.”

“If this continues, there will be a clear reconfiguration of the Mexican media.”

Digital media executive in Mexico.

The outlook for independent, investigative media outlets in Mexico is grim. Their survival will depend on subscriptions but it will be challenging to keep up. This leaves the path open for larger publishers, who are “more open to collaboration and are used to self-censorship to avoid attacks from the government,” explains the digital media executive. The media consultant agrees, “This explains the power of media groups such as Grupo Salinas and now Grupo Televisa and Milenio from Grupo Multimedios, who have decided to cooperate as a means of subsistence.”

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