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Police impede coverage of environmental conflict by Hermosillo community radio station

(CEPET/IFEX) - Radiobemba FM - a radio station with a cultural focus, based in the city of Hermosillo in Sonora, a northern state, and also a member of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) - reports that the work of its reporters has been impeded on three different occasions by municipal police. According to a Radiobemba FM press release, the incidents occurred while the station's reporters were trying to cover a conflict between activists opposing the construction of a commercial corridor in a treed area and the municipal and state authorities. "All the incidents have occurred during operations to evict citizens opposing the construction of a business and cultural project on 3.5 hectares of a park with about 600 trees," says the press release, posted at the station's website.

On 10 March 2008, reporter Tadeo Leyva López was roughly pushed and dragged by police while he was reporting live from the scene as police restrained an activist.

On 14 March, Radiobemba FM adds, a group of activists tried to prevent the entrance and exit of trucks used for the cutting down and removal of the trees, but the activists were beaten and chased off by the police. The same day, the police prevented reporter Arturo Rosas Cabrera from entering the site, although other journalists were allowed to do their work unimpeded.

The radio station states that in another incident on 14 March three police officers seized the cell phone of reporter Marisol Valenzuela Lara when she tried to interview one of the activists detained, who is now hospitalized due to the beating he received during his arrest.

"Due to these incidents, and previous ones, Radiobemba FM has tried several different times to obtain interviews with the state or municipal authorities, or statements from them; their responses have always been negative," adds the press release.

According to Radiobemba FM, the state and municipal governments are trying to impede the station's work because the station has allowed the activists opposed to the project to be heard.

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