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"El Cinco" newspaper printer abducted, other employees threatened, issues prevented from being sold to the public

(CEPET/IFEX) - Early on 16 April 2008, armed men invaded the premises of "El Cinco" newspaper, based in Ciudad La Victoria, capital of Tamaulipas state, abducted the printer and threatened the other employees, in an effort to prevent the newspaper's distribution. The incident occurred only hours after individuals who had been presumed to be gang members robbed the two electricity meters in an effort to cut off power to the newspaper's facilities.

The newspaper had recently denounced that the individuals presumed to be state ministry police (Policías Ministeriales) had "confiscated" all the copies of the newspaper already on the newsstands and at street crossings.

In its electronic edition, "El Cinco" indicated the attacks were in retaliation for articles in which it had criticised the state government.

The newspaper said that at around 2:30 a.m. (local time) on 16 April, "three men believed to be ministerial police officers burst into the newspaper's premises and abducted the printer in order to prevent the print version for that day from circulating."

It added, "the subjects, travelling in two cars, arrived via Cesar López de Lara street. Armed, they entered the printing workshop, beat the printer and took him away. They threatened the other employees, warning them that they would return for them."

The newspaper indicated that despite reporting the incident to the police telephone line for requesting emergency assistance, only two officers from the municipal police came to the newspaper facilities to investigate the incident.

The newspaper commented that the copies of the issue that it did manage to get to the stands after the abduction were bought from the vendors for more than the asking price, in order to prevent the issue from reaching the public.

Businesses in Tamaulipas are being extorted by criminals charging protection money in return for being allowed to work undisturbed, commented María Elena Morera de Galindo, president of Mexico United against Crime (México Unido contra la Delincuencia). She said that her organisation has received complaints from merchants and businessmen of all stripes from Ciudad Victoria, Nuevo Laredo, and Tampico, who say they have had to give in to the threats, due to the real risk to their lives if they did not. The amounts charged by the extortionists are similar, regardless of whether the business is big or small.

Morera indicated that Tamaulipas's safety problems are due to organised crime, which has civilians living in a state of fear. Mexico United against Crime recently signed an agreement on security and justice with the state government. Under the agreement, the group will be able to monitor requests made by Tamaulipas residents regarding safety and related matters, and the responses to these requests by authorities.

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