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Two journalists kidnapped in Tamaulipas, later released

(CEPET/IFEX) - On the morning of 4 March 2010, Ciro Gómez Leyva, the assistant editorial director for the Milenio Group, announced that a reporter and camera operator for Milenio Televisión had been kidnapped at midday on 3 March in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state (northeastern Mexico), by individuals presumed to be hitmen, who issued a clear warning saying, "Don't come here to heat things up."

According to what Gómez Leyva wrote in his column entitled "La historia en breve" (A brief history), he had sent the reporter and camera operator (whose names have been withheld) to Tamaulipas to cover a wave of violence taking place in the region due to a dispute between two rival drug trafficking groups. According to Gómez Leyva, an information vacuum has developed in the region since the media have stopped reporting on violence and security issues as a form of self-protection.

"They had been there for four days and we aired their footage on Monday and Tuesday (1 and 2 March) . . . This time the hitmen were kind, they let them live," explained Gómez Leyva in an article entitled "Two Milenio reporters: The day journalism died". The journalists were eventually released and took the first flight back to Mexico City. They had been beaten and mistreated in other ways. "Their story was overwhelming . . . They're not going to say anything more."

The journalists met with the Milenio Group's general editorial director, Carlos Marín, the editorial director of the "Milenio Diario" newspaper, Roberto López, and Gómez Leyva, who spoke about the incident again on the radio programme "Fórmula de la Tarde": "President Calderon has said that every square kilometre of the country is part the Mexican state, but I say to him, the Tamaulipas governor and the mayor of Reynosa that there may not be a square kilometre in the country where the state is not present but there are hundreds, thousands of square kilometres where, among other things, you cannot exercise journalism."

"Are you going to send journalists back into these regions? The underworld wins. They do not want reporters there . . . They don't want us to heat things up," added Gómez Leyva, who is also the host of the Milenio Televisión's main news programme. "In more and more regions in Mexico it is becoming impossible to practice journalism. Journalism is dead in Reynosa and in other places. I don't have anything else to say."

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