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Two "Noticias" reporters receive death threats over coverage of confrontation at university in Oaxaca

(CEPET/IFEX) - Two reporters from the state of Oaxaca, in southeastern Mexico, received death threats on 16 January 2008 from an individual presumed to be a student gang member known as "El Dragón".

The day prior to the threats, reporter Luis Ignacio Velásquez and photojournalist Mario Jiménez Leyva, both of whom work for Noticias" newspaper, covered a confrontation involving exchanges of gunfire between two groups of "porros" - gangs operating within the public universities.

The confrontation occurred on the campus of the Benito Juárez Automous University of Oaxaca (Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca) on 15 January. The groups were fighting over control of the urban transit vehicles that they had occupied to protest a fare increase.

On 16 January, "Noticias" newspaper published the news and photographs in which the face of one of the participants, who was aiming a gun, was visible. In the article, reference was made to "El Dragón" as one of the main leaders of the confrontation.

Jiménez Leyva told CEPET that he received a telephone call from someone identifying himself as "El Dragón", who told him that he knew both his name and nickname and that he should be careful because he (the caller) knew where to find him. Velázquez received a similar call.

"El Dragón", according to Jiménez Leyva, is believed to be the "sledgehammer" acting against the Popular Assembly of Organized Peoples (Asamblea Popular de Pueblos Organizados, APPO), a citizens' group that has led several protests against the government in recent months, starting with a demand for salary increases for teachers.

The journalists filed a complaint with the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists (Fiscalía Especial para la Atención de Delitos Cometidos contra Periodistas, FEADP).

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