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THREE WORKERS SHOT DEAD IN NEWSPAPER VAN

Three distributors of the newspaper "El Imparcial del Istmo" were attacked and shot dead on 8 October on a highway in Oaxaca, following weeks of threats made to the paper, report Mexican member the National Centre for Social Communication (Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social, CENCOS), ARTICLE 19 and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Mateo Cortés Martínez, Agustín López and Flor Vásquez López were driving in a vehicle bearing the paper's logo when they were chased down by an SUV and gunned down at close range.

"It is clear that the target of the attack is the newspaper. The van was identified with the newspaper logo, and they were carrying credentials," said Benjamín Fernández, general director of "El Imparcial". "It is not safe for us to continue working under these conditions."

According to CPJ, the paper's regional director, Gonzalo Domínguez, received an anonymous telephone call later that afternoon stating he was "next." The threat to him follows several threatening emails and letters to the paper in the past month warning the paper to tone down its coverage of local drug trafficking gangs, report CPJ and ARTICLE 19. "El Imparcial" has demanded special protection for journalists who have been specifically targeted as well as a federal investigation.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous places for journalists in Latin America, says CPJ. During a mission last summer, ARTICLE 19 confirmed a climate of self-imposed censorship and insecurity endured by media and journalists in the state of Oaxaca. ARTICLE 19 called on the federal authorities, especially the Prosecutor Office for the Attention of Transgressions against Journalists, to fully expose the perpetrators of crimes against journalists and their motives.

Visit these links:
- CENCOS (Spanish): http://cencos.org/es/node/16989
- ARTICLE 19: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/86839/
- CPJ: http://www.cpj.org/news/2007/americas/mexico09oct07na.html
- "El Imparcial" (Spanish): http://tinyurl.com/239rea
- CENCOS/ARTICLE 19 report on failure of Mexican state to project journalists: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/85030/
(9 October 2007)

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