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President's office bars "Proceso" magazine for 10 months following critical coverage

(CEPET/IFEX) - "Proceso" weekly magazine complained in its 13 January 2008 issue that for 10 months it has been denied accreditation to cover President Felipe Calderón's tours.

The last time the magazine was included on a presidential tour was 7 March 2007. Currently, it is only being included in events at the president's home - Los Pinos - or in states near the capital, according to an article written by reporter Daniel Lizárraga, entitled "La guerra contra 'Proceso'".

Despite the fact that "Proceso" asked the Office of the President's press chief, Maximiliano Cortázar, to explain the magazine's exclusion, it has received no response. Lizárraga, the reporter assigned to cover the Office of the President, has commented on an incident which may explain the president's position.

Lizárraga wrote: "On 15 March 2007, outside of the National Palace, while those of us on that beat were waiting for the bus taking us back to Los Pinos after covering the government's statement on its first 100 days in office, Cortázar blew up about the magazine's editorial line, saying 'What are you trying to cover? It's one blow after another. Hard, hard, every week. This can't go on,' as he gesticulated and shook his head non-stop."

Lizárraga says in his article that he told the official "Clarify what you think is not based on fact. Which article has included information not well documented?" Cortázar dug his heels in, insisting: "The problem is that not a week goes by without an attack. One after the other. On and on. As well, there have been objectionable covers, like that one on General Galván, in which he was shown close up, covering just about everything. What's that?"

The issue to which Cortázar referred was published on 11 February 2007; it included a report containing information casting doubt on the effectiveness of the operations against drug traffickers.

Following that conversation, the "Proceso" reporter was not included in Calderón's tour to Tijuana, a city in the state of Baja California. Within Mexico, reporters who cover news about the president must be accredited and all the major media have a seat on the plane which transports the journalists, without their media outlet being charged. On trips outside the country, the media outlets themselves usually cover the cost of flights, lodging and land transport.

Lizárraga notes that the exclusion is not limited to the tours. The magazine has also been denied any kind of information, data or interviews and he has had to resort to the Institute for Access to Information (Instituto del Acceso a la Información, IFAI) to oblige Cortázar to provide information, given that when the journalist asks him directly, he refuses to answer the telephone or e-mail messages.

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