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"Cambio" newspaper closes temporarily given Sonora government's inaction after two attacks

(CENCOS/IFEX) - On 25 May 2007, Mario Vázquez Raña, owner of "Cambio" newspaper, decided to temporarily shut down the newspaper, following two fragmentation grenade attacks in one month that had caused physical damage to the newspaper's facilities. The announcement was made by "Cambio" director Roberto Gutiérrez Torres, who said that a one-month shutdown is planned, during which it is hoped that the conditions necessary for exercising the profession of journalism without undue risk can be established. The employees were given a month's salary in advance of the closure decision.

Gutiérrez Torres expressed frustration that the local authorities had not provided any support to ensure the safety of "Cambio" and its staff, although other media outlets have received such support. He said that investigations by the Attorney General's Office (Procuraduría General de la República) revealed that the grenades used in the attacks were M-61's. The director added that his employees' safety comes first and that none should have to risk his or her life to exercise their profession. Investigations have apparently not led to any further findings, so far.

Owner Vázquez Raña, who is also president of the Organización Editorial Mexicana, the largest print-media company in Mexico, stated that it is unfortunate that "the governor has shown neither the will nor the desire to protect what he's obliged to protect," namely, freedom of expression. "Cambio" managers are telling the authorities and Sonora Governor Eduardo Bours Castelo that, until the safety of the newspaper's employees is guaranteed, the newspaper cannot ask them to work.

On 25 May, CENCOS tried to contact the newspaper and found that its telephones are no longer in service. Given this unfortunate situation, CENCOS asks both the local authorities, such as Governor Bours, and President Felipe Calderón to ensure the safety of "Cambio" employees and that those responsible for the attacks be punished, so that journalists can continue to exercise freedom of expression in Sonora.

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