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A Border Press Emergency

Frontera NorteSur, News Report, Staff Posted: Nov 18, 2008

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 Rodriguezs 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 the threat.

This is not the first time they threaten me. On various occasions, Ive 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 didnt 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. Many thanks.

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 Debates 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 Cardenas.

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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