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Mexicos president, a fierce press critic, offers benefits to journalists – Reuters Canada

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico April 6, 2022. Mexico Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

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MEXICO CITY, April 6 (Reuters) – President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Wednesday said his government would channel a quarter of its publicity budget into paying for health insurance and pensions for poorer journalists, a move that may affect the income of Mexico’s traditional media.

The announcement came a day after a report by freedom of expression rights group Article 19 said that violence against the media rose by 85% in the first three years of Lopez Obrador’s administration in comparison to the same period under his predecessor. read more

Lopez Obrador has had a fractious relationship with critical news outlets, accusing many of the biggest names in domestic and foreign media of siding with his “conservative” adversaries. In 2019, he announced a 50% cut in government advertising spending.

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Shortly before Lopez Obrador promised to provide about 750 million pesos ($37 million) for journalists, he launched another broadside against a prominent reporter who has published a series of critical stories about him, questioning his wealth.

The leftist leader said the new funds were earmarked for journalists who are often poorly paid and live precariously.

“It’s unfortunate that many who work as journalists end up with nothing, without medical care, and we want to guarantee social security,” Lopez Obrador said.

The new program would be linked to Mexico’s social security institute and also cover journalists’ families, he added.

The plan could hit revenues at Mexico’s traditional media. In 2020, 10 large companies received some 52% of the entire government advertising budget, according to Article 19.

($1 = 20.0048 Mexican pesos)

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Reporting by Drazen Jorgic and Valentine Marie Hilaire; Editing by Sandra Maler

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