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Gunmen fire on "El Diario del Yaqui" newspaper's facilities in Ciudad Obregón; IAPA urges investigation of various incidents

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is a 15 May 2007 IAPA press release:

IAPA calls for investigation into disappearance of two Mexican journalists

MIAMI, Florida (May 15, 2007) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed concern at the disappearance of two journalists in Monterrey, Nuevo León, and called on authorities to take urgent action to put an end to the violence being unleashed by organized crime in the country.

The disappearance of reporter Gamaliel López and cameraman Gerardo Paredes of TV Azteca Noreste television was reported to the Nuevo León District Attorney's office on May 14, but their whereabouts have been unknown since the afternoon of May 10 when they left to do a report in Monterrey.

According to the results of preliminary inquiries by the IAPA's Rapid Response Unit, López was compiling reports on urban problems in Monterrey and had been covering a number of execution-style killings in the area. Paredes was following up news about entertainment, arts and special topics. It was not immediately known if they received any previous threats.

Gonzalo Marroquín, chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information and editor of the Guatemala City, Guatemala, newspaper Prensa Libre, said he was confident that the authorities would find the two journalists safe and added, "Steps must be taken in the country to ensure that journalists can continue doing their jobs without having to resort to self-censorship for fear of reprisals by organized crime."

Nuevo León state has become one of the most dangerous places in Mexico. "There is a battle going on between drug trafficking cartels, with more than 110 violent deaths being reported there in the last two years," says the newspaper El Universal.

Among recent acts of violence against journalists in Mexico, according to reports by the IAPA's regional vice chairman for Mexico, Juan Fernando Healy of the Periódicos Healy newspaper group, on May 12 unidentified assailants shot up the building of the newspaper El Diario de Yaqui in Ciudad Obregón in the northern state of Sonora.

On May 7 the car in which freelance reporter and writer Lydia Cacho was riding was sabotaged, causing it to veer out of control until the driver finally managed to bring it to a stop. When her police escort examined the car, they found that the bolts on one wheel had been intentionally loosened.

On May 3 a human head was found on a roadside in Veracruz with a message attached saying, "This is a gift for journalists; more heads are going to roll, as Milo Vela very well knows" - a reference to a columnist for the local newspaper Notiver.

So far this year the following journalists have been murdered in Mexico: Saúl Martínez Ortega in Sonora and Amado Ramírez in Guerrero, while Rodolfo Rincón Taracena remains missing in Tabasco. The whereabouts of José Antonio García Apac, Rafael Ortiz Martínez and Alfredo Jiménez Mota also remain unknown

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