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Puebla government denies three online newspapers advertising contracts following critical coverage

(CEPET/IFEX) - For two months, three Puebla state-based online newspapers have been denied advertising contracts with the state government, apparently in reprisal for their critical editorial lines. As well, access from all Puebla state government computers to the same three publications has been blocked.

Rodolfo Ruiz Rodríguez, the director of the online newspaper "e-consulta", which won the José Pagés Llergo National Journalism Prize in 2007 for best informational website, told CEPET that, in response to critical coverage, Puebla Governor Mario Marín Torres has ordered that advertising contracts be withheld.

"It's absurdly unfair; they provide contracts to media outlets that have no ratings and that cannot provide valid circulation numbers, yet they cut us off because we are critical," said Ruiz Rodríguez.

Ruiz Rodríguez also says that "e-consulta" is coming under similar political pressure from the governments of the states of Tlaxcala and Oaxaca, where it is also being denied advertising contracts. The governor of Tlaxcala, the state where "e-consulta" began, even tried to purchase the Internet rights of the newspaper.

Carlos Roberto Ríos and Juan Pablo Proal Mantilla, editor and journalist, respectively, of "e-consulta" told CEPET that their online publication has also become inaccessible through government-based computers in Puebla. They consider this a deliberate boycott of their newspaper.

According to these journalists, access from state government computersto the newspapers "Quinta Columna" and "Status" has (also been blocked.

References to the three online newspapers' coverage have also been eliminated from the press summaries compiled daily by the press office of the state government.
Ruiz Rodríguez told CEPET that he considers the blocking of access to the newspapers an illegitimate limit on access to information. Although the government has the right to set limits upon its employees' access to Internet, in this case it is deliberately preventing public employees from exposure to coverage critical of the government.

Proal Mantilla is convinced that the blocking of access and the advertising boycott are in reprisal for critical coverage by the media outlets in question of the Marín Torres administration. The two-month-old exclusion from access to government advertising contracts began after they reported on ties between Marín Torres and businessman Kamel Nacif. Nacif has been implicated in a pedophile ring.

In 2005, these media outlets published what were reportedly recorded conversations between Marín Torres and Nacif, in which the two conspired to orchestrate the imprisonment of journalist Lydia Cacho Ribeiro. Cacho Ribeiro wrote the book "Los Demonios del Edén", in which she revealed the involvement of politicians and business magnates, Nacif among them, in child prostitution rings.

For more information on the Cacho Ribeiro case, see: http://www.ifex.org/fr/content/view/full/88143

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