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Leading journalist's car sabotaged four days after gruesome "narco-message" threatening press

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has voiced concern about gruesome threatening messages aimed at journalists and the fact that one of the latest messages, which are being blamed on drug traffickers, was followed four days later by an apparent attempt to kill a leading investigative journalist by sabotaging her car.

On 3 May 2007, World Press Freedom Day, the head of a corpse was left on a street in the eastern city of Veracruz along with the message: "Here is a gift for journalists, and other heads will fall, as Milo Vela well knows." Vela is a columnist who writes for the Veracruz-based daily "Notiver". Someone appeared to have acted on the threats when freelance journalist and human rights activist Lydia Cacho Ribeiro's car was sabotaged in Mexico City on 7 May.

"These so-called 'narco-messages' to the press are extremely disturbing," RSF said. "We call on the authorities to immediately ensure that both Lydia Cacho and Milo Vela are properly protected."

Cacho's car was sabotaged although she was being escorted by three policemen because of the death threats she regularly receives. As she and her police bodyguards drove away from Mexico City's airport after her arrival there on 7 May, the driver lost control and nearly crashed. Her bodyguards discovered that the nuts had been loosened on one of the wheels.

"If the driver had not braked in time, the wheel would have come off and the car would have turned over," Cacho said. "At first time I did not think it was very important, but then the policemen showed me the nuts. I have been advised to file a complaint at once because everything indicates it was a murder attempt."

Mexico continues to be the western hemisphere's deadliest country for the press, with two journalists murdered since the start of the year and one missing.

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