Gunmen staged separate attacks on a TV station and a radio station in Torreón, in the northern state of Coahuila on 9 February, killing a young engineer, Rodolfo Ochoa, in the attack on Canal 9 (Milenio TV), which is owned by the Multimedios Laguna group. Equipment was destroyed in the attack on the radio station, Radiorama, which has been off the air ever since.
A Canal 9 employee told Reporters Without Borders: “The attack took place at dawn. The station went off the air for a while but is now operating normally. The attackers made off with monitors and tools. They clearly intended to damage equipment as you can see the marks of blows and the door was forced. But, obviously, it is the death of our employee, Rodolfo Ochoa, that has affected us most.”
Aged 27, Ochoa was covering the night shift, Milenio reported on its website. When he noticed the presence of intruders, he tried to phone one of his colleagues but was shot several times by the gunmen.
The police have placed the TV station under patrol car surveillance, which is a useful short-term measure but is not enough. A thorough investigation is needed. This is not the first time that this media group has been targeted. Its correspondent in the state of Durango, Eliseo Barrón Hernández.
On the night of 9 February, three hooded gunmen raided the premises of Radiorama, attacked the night watchman and a woman companion, forced their way inside and destroyed the station’s transmission equipment, reducing it to silence.
A local media source told Reporters Without Borders: “It is incredible that (the authorities) had not foreseen this kind of situation, in a strategic area where there are other broadcast media and where a criminal organization is operating.”
Newspaper distributor kidnapped
An armed group meanwhile briefly kidnapped the distributor of the El Norte and Metro newspapers (owned by the Reforma media group) in Nuevo Laredo, in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas. After the delivery man had been tied up and thrown into the back of a vehicle, his abductors ordered him at gunpoint to stop distributing El Norte in Nuevo Laredo. They then set fire to the 1,100 copies he had been transporting and released him.
El Norte had just published a report about the murder of Gen. Manuel Farfán, the head of public security in Nuevo Laredo.
Armed attacks on media premises have increased since the start of 2010, as the federal government continues an offensive against drug-trafficking in which around 30,000 people have been killed since December 2006. Journalists have not been spared.
Reporters Without Borders urges the federal authorities, in consultation with press freedom NGOs, to quickly apply the new mechanisms for protecting journalists that were announced at the interior ministry on 3 November 2010.
Reporters Without Borders is supporting the “¡Basta de Sangre!” (Enough Blood) campaign which 10 press cartoonists launched last month and which has a presence on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Basta...) and Twitter. A portfolio of the cartoons can be seen on the Reporters Without Borders website.
Cartoon: El Fer