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Military tell journalist not to write about their abusive raid on his home in Michoacán

(CEPET/IFEX) - Journalist Ignacio Roque Madriz, a Michoacán-based correspondent for "La Crónica de Hoy" newspaper, has complained that fifteen soldiers raided his home on 14 February 2008, during an apparent search for a kidnap victim. "La Crónica de Hoy" is published in Mexico City.

In a letter to editor-in-chief Pablo Hiriart, the journalist said that at approximately 9:23 p.m. (local time), three military units comprised of about 50 soldiers in total carried out a search operation in the Valle Quieto neighbourhood, in the city of Morelia, Michoacán state, western Mexico. His neighbours were alarmed when the soldiers parked their vehicles outside of his house.

"About fifteen soldiers entered my home through the garage, acting aggressively, eventually reaching the hallway outside my studio, where they pointed their weapons at me. I had just filed a report with 'La Crónica de Hoy'. I have been a correspondent in Michoacán for the newspaper since 4 September 2002," said Roque Madriz in his letter to Hiriart, adding that the military urged him not to report anything about the incident.

According to the journalist, the soldiers did not present a search warrant, nor did they identify themselves. They said they had information that a kidnap victim was in the house and asked Roque Madriz to show them some identification. The military personnel photographed the journalist, his identification papers and some of his belongings.

Under a strategy by the government of President Felipe Calderón to crack down on the drug cartels that are operating across the country, in the last year the number of military operations against drug trafficking have intensified, leading to an increase in violence.

Roque Madriz said the soldiers went through every room in his house, including the office where he does his journalistic work. Throughout the whole time military personnel remained stationed outside, blocking the street to cars and pedestrians.

After the incident, he went to the Michoacán state government's press office and spoke with Armando Machorro Arenas, spokesperson for Governor Leonel Godoy Rangel, who recently took office.

Roque Madriz ended his letter to "La Crónica de Hoy" by saying that he would hold the Mexican Army responsible if anything were to happen to him, his wife or his children.

Although there is no reason to conclude that the raid is connected to the journalist's work, CEPET is disturbed by the incident and reiterates its concern over military operations against drug trafficking that result in this type of human rights violation.

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