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Member of journalists' organisation receives death threat, fired over colleague's prize-winning photograph of Veracruz official

(CEPET/IFEX) - Journalist José Uriel Rosas Martínez has been fired from the Veracruz Institute for Open Education (Instituto Veracruzano de Educación Abierta, IVEA) and threatened with murder by an employee of the Veracruz state's education secretariat after a journalists' organisation to which he belongs awarded a prize to photojournalist Miguel Ángel Carmona for a photograph showing Veracruz state Education Secretary Víctor Arredondo Álvarez with what is presumed to be cocaine residue on his fingers.

The controversial photograph, taken by Carmona in Xalapa, Veracruz state, won the National Journalism prize awarded by the Mexican Journalists' Club (Club de Periodistas de México), to which Rosas Martínez is the delegate for Veracruz, a state in southeast Mexico.

Rosas Martínez - who aside from working at the IVEA also works for "Voces del Periodista" weekly newspaper and other local publications such as "Noticias" daily and "San Andrés Tuxtla" - reported that the day the prizes were awarded he received a telephone call from the education secretariat press chief Rogelio Marín Reyes, who told him, "Arredondo Álvarez knows what happened, watch out, you'll soon see some faces."

Later, on 16 January 2008, IVEA director Osvaldo Pérez told Rosas Martínez that Arredondo Álvarez had ordered the cancellation of Rosas Martínez's contract as head of social communications for IVEA - a post which he had held for three years and for which he had a contract running until 2010 - for having awarded the prize to Carmona.

Rosas Martínez wrote to Veracruz Governor Fidel Herrera Beltrán about the situation, asking that he and his family be protected; he also sent a press release to various media outlets, indicating that the education secretary should be held responsible should any harm come to him.

Rosas Martínez is also preparing a grievance claim under the labour laws, since he received no compensation when IVEA dismissed him.

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