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Mexican journalist who said she feared for her life killed in Tijuana

Lourdes Maldonado López was shot Sunday night outside of her home in Tijuana, the third journalist to be killed in Mexico this month.

An independent journalist, she made headlines in 2019 when she told Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference that she was in the middle of a labor dispute with her former employer, PSN, and feared for her life. At the time, PSN's owner, Jaime Bonilla Valdez, was running for governor of Baja California as part of the ruling Morena party, and Maldonado asked López Obrador for his "support, help, and labor justice." 

Last week, Maldonado won a lawsuit she filed against PSN for wrongful termination, and the company was ordered to pay her back wages. When asked about Maldonado's death on Monday, López Obrador called it "very unfortunate." He said it was too early in the investigation to know if her murder was connected to the labor dispute, and said the killings will only end "when we all move forward to purify public life so that materialism doesn't dominate, so ambition, ego, and hate are set aside."

In 2020, more journalists were killed in Mexico than anywhere else in the world, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. At least four members of the media were the victims of targeted killings, the organization said, and a fifth was shot and killed after taking pictures of a crime scene. Mexico has an underfunded protection program for journalists, which is supposed to give them access to safe houses and bodyguard services. Maldonado was part of the program in 2021, but was still attacked multiple times, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Prior to Maldonado's murder, photojournalist Margarito Martínez was shot and killed on Jan. 17 outside of his home in Tijuana. Earlier this month, reporter and editor José Luis Gamboa was stabbed to death in Veracruz state. Their murders are under investigation.