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Newspaper owner in Yucatán receives death threats, is target of murder plot by Mérida crime boss

(CEPET/IFEX) - The following is a 9 July 2007 statement from CEPET, an interim member of IFEX:

Death threats against Yucatán journalist denounced

Federal congressman José Luis Blanco has documented and condemned threats made against journalist Mario Renato Menéndez Rodríguez, the director and owner of "Por Esto" newspaper, which is published in the Yucatán peninsula in southeastern Mexico.

"It's clear that the death threats against Menéndez Rodríguez, as well as those received by other media outlets' employees in the country, are an attack on freedom of expression," said Blanco, who represents Yucután in the national Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados).

Blanco's condemnation of the threats is supported by the head of the Yucatán judiciary, Ángel Prieto, the head of the state legislature, Jorge Carlos Berlín, and the governor-elect, Ivonne Ortega.

Mérida municipal police chief Francisco Calero indicated that his police force's role is preventative. He said that ongoing supervision will be provided of the areas under its jurisdiction, such as the colonial central area of Mérida, where several of "Por Esto" newspaper's offices are located and consequently, where Menéndez Rodriguez often works. Mérida is Yucatán's capital city.

In an article in his newspaper, Menéndez Rodríguez stated that hit men have been hired to kill him for 5 million pesos (approx. US$460,000), by "El Negro Chalé", head of a criminal group operating principally in Mérida.

Menéndez Rodríguez is also the representative of a regional group supporting Cuban President Fidel Castro.

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