A Border Press Emergency
By FronteraNorte Sur
Even before murdered El Diario de Juarez reporter Armando Rodriguez was
buried last week, more Ciudad Juarez journalists reported getting death
threats. In one case, the director of a popular online news site took the
threats so seriously he immediately left behind his property, packed up
the family and fled to the United States.
According to the Mexico City-based Center for Journalism and Public Ethics
(CEPET), Jorge Luis Aguirre, director of the La Polaka news service,
received a call on his cell phone last Thursday, one day after Rodriguez’s
murder, which warned the news manager that he “was the next in line.”
In a telephone interview with CEPET, Aguirre speculated on the origins of
“This is not the first time they threaten me. On various occasions, I’ve
received e-mails and calls telling me to tone down my editorial line,
because of information that has to do with security,” Aguirre was quoted
as saying. “In the last threat, they didn’t tell me the motive, but I
believe it comes more from the authorities than organized crime, though
one does not know; in Ciudad Juarez they are linked together.”
In a statement, CEPET said other Ciudad Juarez journalists were threatened
on the same day as Rodriguez’ funeral, prompting unnamed media outlets to
scale down their coverage of organized crime and narco-violence.
For several days, the usually prolific La Polaka news site did not publish
any new information. A few new stories finally appeared November 17,
including a piece on a fatal shootout last weekend involving the Mexican
army and suspected drug traffickers in Ascencion, Chihuahua. Approximately
three tons of marijuana were seized by soldiers during the mayhem.
“Hello. With the limitations that dictate our circumstances, we return to
carry out our journalistic work,” La Polaka curtly announced in a message.
For CEPET, the threats against Aguirre and other Ciudad Juarez journalists
constitute a grave turn of events.
“CEPET expresses its alarm at this wave of threats and violence and
exhorts the authorities to take urgent measures to guarantee the free
exercise of journalism,” the Mexican press advocacy organization said. “We
reiterate that aggressions against journalists and the media represent
attacks against society because they harm its right to be informed.”
In the Pacific Coast state of Sinaloa, meanwhile, unknown assailants
tossed two grenades at the offices of El Debate newspaper in the state
capital of Culiacan early on the morning of November 17. No injuries were
reported in the attack, but El Debate’s building sustained some damages.
Sources: CEPET, November 17, 2008. Press statement. Lapolaka.com, November
17, 2008. La Jornada, November 17, 2008. Article by Javier Valdez
Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico
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