It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the announcement of the annual Tyrant of the Year competition winner. While competition was tough, one leader surged ahead, by a mile in fact. Our Tyrant of the Year for 2022 is Andrés Manuel López Obrador from Mexico. López Obrador presides over a country which has the dubious honour of being the country in which more journalists were killed last year than any other. It is also the country ranked as the most dangerous place to be an environmental defender, according to Global Witness. The number of kidnappings, assaults and arrests under his watch has been huge. Mexico’s climate of impunity makes it possible. López Obrador has also cosied up to the military and Donald Trump and lashed out at women, NGOs and the New York Times. Forbes called López Obrador “a human rights disaster”.
Index policy and campaigns officer Nik Williams, who nominated Obrador for the award, said, “The high number of votes for López Obrador is testament to the structural threats to free expression in Mexico that has made it the most dangerous place in the world for journalists, outside of a warzone. For the good of journalists, their families and colleagues, as well as the broader Mexican society, we hope Obrador takes the steps necessary to protect media freedom. Only then will this be the first and last time he is voted Tyrant of the Year.”
We covered Mexico a lot in the years under his predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto. We noted with alarm the escalation of violence against journalists in particular. When López Obrador came to power in 2018, he did so with promises to pull the country out of a dastardly spiral of crime, corruption and inequality. People were cynical about these pledges at the time and it’s a shame to see their cynicism was correct. Mexico remains very much on the Index radar as a result and we will continue to cover the country in our magazine and online.
Read about all the shortlisted leaders here.