Joint action by both federal and local authorities is needed to protect the regional offices of the national TV network Televisa after a car-bomb exploded in the early hours of today outside the Televisa office in Ciudad Victoria, in the northeastern border state of Tamaulipas.
It was the third such attack on a Televisa office in the past 10 days. Similar explosions previously rocked the network’s bureaux in Matamoros (Tamaulipas) on 14 August and Monterrey (Nuevo León) on 15 August.
No staff were present at the time of today’s explosion in Ciudad Victoria and no one was hurt. But the blast damaged the building’s facade and interrupted local transmission of the station’s signal.
Today’s attack came shortly after the discovery of the bodies of 72 Central and South American clandestine immigrants on a ranch near Ciudad Victoria. Did news coverage of this tragedy prompt this attack on a national network? The police investigation must address this question.
17.08.10 - Grenades thrown at two Televisa bureaux in northeastern cities in one night
Grenades were thrown from moving cars at the bureaux of the national TV station Televisa in two northeastern cities – Matamoros (in Tamaulipas state) and Monterrey (in Nuevo León state) – on the night of 14/15 August, causing serious damage in both cases and slightly injuring two people in Monterrey.
The grenade attack on the Matamoros bureau took place at around 9 p.m. on 14 August. It was the second such attack on a Televisa bureau in Tamaulipas state in the past few weeks. The grenade attack on the Monterrey bureau took place at around 1:30 a.m. on 15 August.
According to the information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, the office of the Federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) in each state has opened an investigation into the attacks. Nonetheless, no PGR representative had questioned any Televisa personnel by late yesterday despite the need for urgency.
The Televisa bureau in Monterrey was the target of a similar attack in January 2009 and the journalists there say they are under constant threat from drug traffickers. The staff of these bureaux should be given greater protection.
11.08.2010 - Newspaper editor freed after being held by abductors for 10 days
Ulises González García, the editor of the regional weekly La Opinión, who was kidnapped from his home in Jérez, in the state of Zacatecas, on 29 July, was released in the early hours of 9 August and was rushed to a private hospital for treatment to the injuries received during his abduction, some of which appeared to have been caused by torture.
Reporters Without Borders is relieved by the news but stresses that there is no sign of any improvement in the general press freedom situation in Mexico. Like nearby Honduras, Mexico continues to be one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists.
The press freedom organisation takes this opportunity to issue a list of all the journalists who have been murdered in Mexico since 2000 and all those who have been reported missing since 2003. It includes cases in which the motive was clearly linked to the victim’s work as a journalist and those in which the motive has yet to be established.
6.08.10 - Three alleged cartel members arrested for last month’s abductions in Durango
Three alleged members of the feared Sinaloa Cartel were arrested on 4 August for their suspected involvement in the abduction of four journalists last month in the northwestern state of Durango.
Multimedios Laguna cameraman Javier Canales Fernández, Televisa cameraman Alejandro Hernández Pacheco, Televisa reporter Héctor Gordoa Márquez and El Vespertino reporter Oscar Solis Gurrola were kidnapped on 26 July, a few hours after covering a demonstration against the dismissal of a prison governor.
The arrests come at a time of constant violence in Mexico. Journalists are planning to stage peaceful marches at midday tomorrow in Mexico City and various other states such as Chihuahua, Chiapas, Nuevo León and Sonora. These states have been badly hit by the mayhem resulting from the federal offensive against drug trafficking, in which more 30,000 have been killed since December 2006.
The journalists are calling for guarantees for their safety and effective measures to combat impunity and reduce the particularly high level of murders and disappearances of journalists.
Reporters Without Borders hails the progress in the investigation into the Durango abductions but there is unfortunately still no news about Ulises González García, the editor of the regional weekly La Opinión, who was kidnapped from his home in Jérez, in the state of Zacatecas, on 29 July. Mexico is ranked 137th out of 175 countries in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
3.08.2010 - After four releases, tragic July ends with another abduction and a flight into exile
The relief at the release of the four journalists who were kidnapped on 26 July in Gómez Palacio, in the northwestern state of Durango, was short-lived. As the last two of the four journalists were freed, it was being reported that Ulises González García, the editor of the local weekly La Opinión, had been kidnapped in the early hours of 29 July from his home in Jérez, in the neighbouring state of Zacatecas.
González joins the list of 11 journalists reported missing since 2003. His abduction capped a particularly tragic July for Mexico’s media with a total of three journalists murdered. Their deaths have brought the total number of journalists killed in Mexico since 2000 to 67.
González’s colleagues told Reporters Without Borders they did not know why he was abducted. According to local sources quoted in the Mexican press, a large ransom has been demanded. Neither his relatives nor his newspaper were volunteering any details.
The Zacatecas state attorney-general’s office confirmed to Reporters Without Borders yesterday that it has known about his kidnapping since 29 July but it also declined to provide any details because of the secrecy surrounding the investigation. It added that it was aware that recent issues of González’s weekly had referred to organised crime activity in Jérez.
The federal authorities must assist in an all-out effort to locate González which should be conducted in transparent manner and which hopefully will have as successful an outcome as the search for the last two journalists held in the Durango abductions, Multimedios Laguna cameraman Javier Canales Fernández and Televisa cameraman Alejandro Hernández Pacheco, who were freed in the early hours of 31 July.
Televisa reporter Héctor Gordoa Márquez, who was kidnapped at the same time as Canales and Hernández by gangsters claiming to be members of the Pacific Cartel, had been released two days earlier. It has emerged that the fourth Durango kidnap victim, El Vespertino reporter Oscar Solís Gurrola, was freed a few hours after being abducted from his home.
All four journalists were kidnapped shortly after covering a demonstration against the dismissal of Gómez Palacio prison governor Margarita Rojas, who is alleged to have acted in complicity with other local officials in allowing prisoners convicted on drug trafficking charges to leave the prison.
In three videos announcing their demands, the kidnappers accused the police in the states of Durango and Coahuila of colluding with Los Zetas, a paramilitary group. It was one more example of how the drug cartels try to use to press for public relations purposes or to undermine rival gangs.
The day that the journalists were freed in Durango, a Televisa bureau was the target of a grenade attack in Nuevo Laredo, in the northeastern border state of Tamaulipas. The grenades caused damage but no injuries.
Police evacuated the offices of the Norte and El Mexicano newspapers in the northern border city of Ciudad Juárez (in Chihuahua state) yesterday after anonymous calls were received announcing that they were about to be bombed. Journalists were shaken but no one was hurt, as the calls turned out to have been a hoax.
More and more Mexican journalists are fleeing the country because their work has become so dangerous. One of the latest to do so is Martín López Castro of Canal 44 TV in Ciudad Juárez, who fled across the border to El Paso, Texas, on 27 July after seeing graffiti that threatened him with decapitation.
Reporters Without Borders urges the US authorities to grant López’s asylum request, as they have in the past with other journalists who were supported by Reporters Without Borders.