The offices of the Mexican daily El Buen Tono in the city of Córdoba in the south-eastern state of Veracruz were almost totally destroyed in an early morning arson attack two days ago, barely a month after it was launched.
“A description obtained by Reporters Without Borders from the newspaper’s publisher, Julio Fatanes leaves no doubt that it was intended to silence the newspaper,” the press freedom organization said.
“A motive has yet to be established, although some elements point to a political one. We hope that the judicial authorities in Veracruz state will have the courage to explore this avenue and will act with complete independence.
“We recall that other serious attacks on press freedom in the region since the start of the year have gone entirely unpunished. Veracruz has become one of the deadliest states in the country this year with the murders of three journalists, and among those most affected by the war among drug cartels.”
About 15 armed men burst into the newspaper’s offices two days ago after firing at the front of the building. About 20 employees were on the premises at the time. The attackers emptied cans of gasoline and set fire to the building. Members of the editorial staff had just enough time to take refuge in the press hall.
The newspaper’s owner, José Abella García, told Imagen Radio : “Everything has gone up in flames. It’s all gone.”
Fatanes described the newspaper as a citizens’ campaigning daily for the city. “We draw attention to bad workmanship and negligence on the part of local authorities,” he told Reporters Without Borders.
El Buen Tono recently published several articles accusing the mayor of Cordoba, Francisco Portilla Bonilla, of involvement in corruption and influence-peddling. It went so far as to demand the dismissal of the state’s head of public transportation, Carlos Demuner Pitol, because he did not have the academic qualifications for the job.
“It must be someone that we have written about who feels outraged and who has considerable criminal influence to have the means to order a newspaper to be burned down,” Fatanes added. The newspaper lodged a complaint yesterday with the federal justice ministry’s special prosecutor for attacks on freedom of expression.