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"El Periódico de Quintana Roo" journalists receive death threats while covering electoral process

(CENCOS/IFEX) - "El Periódico de Quintana Roo" journalists Silvia Reyes and Carlos Narváez were assaulted on 5 July 2009 by three individuals while they were documenting coercive actions and the buying of votes by members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI). The incident took place in the state of Quintana Roo, in southern Mexico.

Reyes and Narváez were covering an electoral process in the municipality of Solidaridad when they noticed PRI supporters involved in coercive actions and vote buying. They immediately began taking photographs but when three of the PRI supporters realised what they were doing, they intervened and began physically and verbally assaulting the journalists while attempting to grab their cameras. Then, as they were leaving, they threatened to kill the journalists.

In an interview with CENCOS, Narváez said that he and Reyes submitted a complaint to the Public Ministry for the crimes of robbery, injury and attempted murder. Narváez also said the case is linked to Juan Carlos Serrano Pinzón, the husband of Ursula Cavich, the Municipality of Solidaridad's director of citizen's services. "We are worried because they issued death threats against us and they said they knew who we were and the places we tend to go to. We hope nothing will happen to us," said Narváez.

On 7 July, Cavich stepped down from her position so that an investigation into the incident can take place. However, the journalists and colleagues who have pledged their support for them continue to feel intimidated.

CENCOS calls on the Quintana Roo Human Rights Commision (Comisión Estatal de Derechos Humanos) to follow the case closely and urges the State Attorney General's Office to begin the necessary investigation into who was responsible for the threats and to guarantee the safety of Narváez and Reyes, as well as their colleagues.

This type of attack not only affects journalists but also society as a whole as it impedes the free flow of information. These sources of information are fundamental in a democratic society and if they are missing the ability of the public to make informed decisions is undermined. Preventing or hindering the right to information translates into a direct threat against the stability of democracy.

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